This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
I would fain hope many of the readers of the 'Gardener' have a kindly regard for these beautiful and attractive flowers. All the most gorgeous hues of the floral kingdom concentrate here, and aid to make a display worthy to be a constituent part in the poetic fancies of Eastern climes. So multiplied are the varieties annually offered for sale, that they may be said to afford almost every shade of colour and diversity of appearance; and, in addition, many of the most useful kinds for bedding purposes are sold somewhat cheaply, and therefore can be procured at a comparatively small outlay.
It has been advanced, as an objection to their cultivation, that the blooming season is too short in duration, and therefore does not sufficiently repay any extra outlay of trouble and patience about them. To this it can be replied, that the blooming season is by no means an evanescent one when the bulbs are planted in good holding soil. When they occupy poor impoverished ground, or when they have been allowed to remain on the border without being lifted and replanted at the proper season, they often induce disappointment; but when they become elevated into the position of "favourites," and receive treatment corresponding to the esteem in which they are held, they doubly repay the investment. I have now in my garden a border of them in fine bloom, notwithstanding the retarding influences of a rigorous and trying season; they are planted in light rich soil, and many a passerby is moved to admiration, perhaps to envy.
Let me pass in review some of these flowers (would that I could present them with their rich, handsome, and varicoloured cups, "flaunting in the eye of day," robed in gorgeously-tinted apparel as veritable peers among spring flowers !) and to do that I will group them in colours, choosing the best in each.
Of self-white flowers, I must stand by the fine old white Pottebak-ker; of large size, stout, and finely formed, it can scarcely be equalled, much less excelled, either for pots or beds. I pass by such varieties as Pax alba, Alba regalis, Grande Blanche Royale, and others, as not to be compared with this.
Of yellow self-flowers, the best are Golden Prince and Yellow Potte-bakker; large, full, and handsomely coloured, they do an excellent service used in any way. Canary Bird, Chrysolora, Prince de Ligne, and others, certainly give a variety, but they cannot usurp the place of the two I have named.
Of crimson shades, the darkest and most distinct is Purple Crown, one that cannot be too highly recommended for bedding purposes. Next come Couleur Cardinal, Vermilion Brilliant, and Garibaldi, the last a most useful dwarf variety ; these three are distinct and good, and all paler in colour than Purple Crown; Vermilion Brilliant is a grand variety for pot culture. Couleur Ponceau can also be classed with the foregoing; it is of a dark-crimson colour, but has a pale flame up each petal. Two purple self-flowers stand out distinctly for their obvious good qualities - viz., Van der Neer, deep violet purple, and Paul Potter, rather paler in colour. With these should be classed three fine flowers I can best designate as belonging to the rosy-violet class of selfs - viz., Proserpine, silken rosy violet, extra fine; Rose Luisante; and Queen of Violets - all fine and distinct.
Of edged flowers there are two of marvellous beauty, Keizer's Kroon and Duchesse de Parma, both crimson grounds edged with gold, the first named more broadly so than the other; of large size, and extremely effective as bedders. Of striped flowers, Marquis de Wes-senrode, golden ground flaked with red; Bride of Haarlem, white and crimson stripes; Globe de Rigaud, white flaked with purple; Monument, bright deep red striped with white; and Cour de France, crimson flaked with pale yellow - all fine and good; and, lastly, a magnificent flower, known as Joost van Vondel, probably in its true character a self deep-blood crimson variety, but apt to come flaked and flamed with white; and a true companion to this, Princesse d'Au-triche, a broken form of Duchesse de Parma, dark bronzy crimson ground, heavily flaked and edged with gold.
Of the double-flowering kinds the following are most useful for bedding purposes; Imperator Rubrorum, Rex Rubrorum, and Rose Eclatante, crimson self-flowers; Blue Celeste, dark violet; La Candeur, white; Yellow Tournesol and Yellow Rose, yellow, the former of the two by far the best; Tournesol and Gloria Solis, crimson edged with gold, both extremely useful; Duke of York, crimson edged with white; and Couronne Imperiale, La Belle Alliance, and Mariage de ma Fille, striped flowers, rather tall in growth, and somewhat late in blooming.
Beds or borders planted with Tulips should always have a carpet of some dwarf-growing plant or plants beneath them. Of these there are many that can be most advantageously used for the purpose, such as Saxifraga hypnioides, Sedum acre aureum, a perfect gem for spring work; Sedum glaucum, Arabis albida, white; Alyssum saxatile, yellow; Myosotis dissitiflora, blue; Double Daisies, Pansies of sorts, Cowslips, Polyanthuses, Phlox frondosa, P. Verna, and the chaste P. Nelsoni, and many other things; these can be used singly, or mingled together, so as to secure a succession of bloom. There are many ways in which they can be advantageously arranged, and a most effective display secured.
It must not be supposed that it is indispensably necessary a new supply of bulbs be obtained each year. With a little care the bulbs may be made to do several seasons' work, if, when they are lifted from the ground, they are removed with balls of earth about the roots, and planted away in a cool shady place, in some light sandy soil. Even the offsets made by the Tulips should be preserved, and in two or three years they will give a supply of blooming bulbs, A border should be prepared for them, in which they should be planted, and covered with 6 inches of a fine sandy soil. Here they should remain undisturbed for two years, when it will be found many of them will bloom. Perhaps a three years' rest would be best; and if the border were well trenched, manured, and a good supply of sand placed about the bulbs, the result would, in all probability, surprise the most experienced cultivator. Surely it will be admitted something can be said for the early-flowering bedding Tulips by an Observer.