Global Garden Highlight: Spring Blooms of the Middle East

Our curated spring display this year, Global Gardens, features plants native to five continents:
South America, North America, the Middle East, Europe, and South America. 

In the Knot Garden, hundreds of tulip bulbs are in bloom paying tribute to these lovely spring flowers’ original home, the Middle East. Once they bloom, you’ll find six kinds of tulips that are unlike any you’re used to seeing.

The tulips selected for the gardens represent species tulipssimilar to those found in the wild. These flowers lack the full-bodied cups and height of cultivated tulips, however, they don’t lack the dramatic flair and vibrant colors that these flowers are cherished for. As an additional benefit, many species tulips are reliable perennializing plants, which means that unlike the garden tulip, they are far more likely to come back year after year.

Tulipa batalinii ‘Bright Gem’ is a pale yellow cultivar native to Uzbekistan. Because of its smaller size, it works well when planted in large groups, where its color will stand out the most.The color often fades to a peach hue over time. 

 

Tulipa ‘Little Princess’ is a hybrid of two other tulip species: T. hageri and T. aucheriana. The combination resulted in this tiny, fiery flower. Growing to only 4” tall, Little Princess blooms are colored red and orange with yellow margins and a black center. In addition to its unique colors, Little Princess is also fragrant, though its diminutive stature may make this perk hard to notice unless it is sited close to eye level.

Tulipa kolpakowskiana is another yellow flowering tulip, though it trades the soft yellow of Bright Gem for a saturated, dandelion yellow with reddish-purple tinge to the outer tepals. This is an heirloom variety that has been around since the late 1800’s, and has received the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Tulipa praestans ‘Shogun’ is an attractive, rather floriferous species. Each plant produces three to four marigold-orange blooms with darker orange streaks that contrast well with its brown to black anthers.

Tulipa sylvestris is another deep yellow tulip. A very common naturalizer in Europe, this species has been dubbed both the Woodland and the Florentine tulip. These dainty, fragrant flowers possess blooms that nod gently, reminiscent of a daffodil. 

Tulipa linifolia, the flax-leaved tulip, is also native to Uzbekistan, as well as to Iran and Afghanistan. This species is traditionally grown both for its scarlet flower and for the lovely red margins its leaves produce. In addition to the red flowering form, there are cultivars that flower in pale peach to white, such as T. linifolia ‘Bronze Charm.’