The Cottage Smallholder

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Wonderful tulips: Queen of the Night

Photo: Queen of te Night Tulips

Photo: Queen of te Night Tulips

When I first moved to the cottage I planted Queen of the Night tulips with scented white irises beside the new pond – the combination looked stunning but they petered out when the yew hedges grew large. The hedges are great for making compartments and adding structure to a garden but they also create dry shady areas on one side and on the other side very dry sunny areas if you have a south west facing garden like us.

But a challenge is often a good thing. You are forced to think around the box, rather than just outside it.

We have a vast pot beside the kitchen back door. Here we nurture scented geraniums in the summer and plant bulbs in the autumn for spring colour.and delights.  This year I planted loads of species tulips in TVP and was thrilled when they bloomed opening like stars when the sun touched them and finally closed tight at the end of the long spring days.

Suddenly we spotted some heavy weight tulips poking through the earth in the TVP.
“These are full sized tulips. Did you plant them?”
“No I wouldn’t know what to do with the TVP.”

When the buds finally opened, we discovered that they were Queen of the Night – I’d planted some three years ago in TVP and had forgotten all about them.  They flowered the first year and had slept since then.

We are enjoying their dramatic performance. And they clearly thrive in a super sized pot in a north east aspect. The front of the cottage is southwest facing so the back of the cottage is north east facing. I’m keen to plant our new scented geraniums – these can thrive in shade but also love full sun. 

I wouldn’t dream of shifting the tulips until they have bowed and performed many an encore and completed their acclaimed run. When they die down I’ll interplant them with the scented pelargonium. Or is this pelargonia? Please advise!

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  1. Kathleen Smith

    Actually, that should be “worried that they wouldn’t bloom” Cannot type today!

  2. Kathleen Smith

    I planted these in the fall, worried that they would bloom. Surprise! They did, as did all of the tulips I planted. I love them!

  3. hi!

    I also planted two years ago tulips. I bought them in Amsterdam.. I planted 10 QOTN and 10 in mixed color. I was excited about they’re look, but all of them had red flowers!! they look nice, but just in red color! Please, could you help me, why don’t they grow in black and in other colors? is it the soil? the pH?
    thanks!! Tom

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna

    Yes, the black tulips look amazing against the pale walls of the cottage. I do hope that they return next year!

    Hi Veronica

    Black tulips and white irises looked stunning but they were only flowering together on the overlap (about 10 days) which made them even more special.

    Hi Joanna

    Thanks so much for your tips. I think that I will dry TQOTN out this year as they have given us so much pleasure.

    Yes brushing past scented pelargonium is one of summer’s true pleasures.

    Hello Z

    Thank you so much for your advice much appreciated.

    Hello Carol

    I love the idea of the combination of QOTN and forget me nots. Thanks for the nudge.

    I moved my new scented geraniums outside last week and they are loving it.

    Hi Michelle Sheets

    Your combination sounds great. I bet that they looked stunning.

    You’re right, nature never clashes.

  5. michelle sheets

    I did Queens too, with a combo of a lighter burgandy and a pink streaked white tulip. It was a luck of the draw situation, I had opened up all of my bags of bulbs and mixed everything together to make sure I got a random look. I can’t do structured beds, they just look silly with the space I have, so I mix it all up and let luck decide what its going to look like.
    I comfort myself with something I read, or someone told me, which was “Nature never clashes”. Hey, if she can’t, how can I?

  6. Carol

    I love Queen of The Night too – I planted some new among the old last year and they came up much later and shorter than the original – am now wondering wether I should lift them all now as per previous post.I have them surrounded by Forget-me-Nots which are a nice contrast.
    Lemon scented geraniums are my favourites but the one I bought at Hampton Court last year is looking a bit pathetic – it’s inside in the porch so perhaps it just needs to get some fresh air over the summer.

  7. My understanding is that it’s only ‘real’ Latin words (that is, in use during the time of the Roman Empire) that should have a plural in accordance with the rules of Latin. Words that have been invented since, even if using Latin roots, don’t. So it’s pelargoniums.

  8. Joanna

    If you want to be sure of the tulips next year, then you should dig ’em up and dry ’em off, but who’s got time for that. Otherwise, you have to remember that in their natural habitat they will get a good baking during the summer, and that there will also be good drainage. So the big pot undoubtedly scores. Just make sure that the tulips aren’t overplanted immediately, because they really do need that baking, and if they don’t get it, they give up the ghost …. that’s why they tend not to return in a border for more than a year or two. And that’s why idle gardeners like me tend to regard the common ones as annuals. And only take care with the rarer sorts

    Lovely to have a scented pelargonium at the door to brush against daily


  9. Veronica

    Fantastic! Black flowers are so dramatic, and they must have looked amazing with the white irises.

  10. Joanna

    No idea about scented pelagonium or pelagonia but the tulips sure do look stunning. We have red and orange streaked tulips here growing up amongst the weeds, we are trying to save them as that area will be integrated into the veg patch eventually.

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