It is a most important object to arrange the bulbs in the bed, so that when in bloom the plants will make the greatest possible display.
If symptoms of frost appear after the bulbs are planted, the bed must be covered with fern, straw, or other similar protection; for though the tulip can scarcely be destroyed by the most rigorous frost known in this climate, yet a short exposure to even a slight congelation will injure the bulb, and its effects will be plainly apparent in the blooming season by the split discoloured sepals, and other imperfections of the flower. When the plants appear above ground, the protecting material must be removed, the surface of the soil slightly stirred, and a covering of hoops and mats, or waterproof transparent cloth, which is much better, placed over the bed, as heavy rain, hail, or frost, are equally injurious; air and light, however, must be freely admitted on all favourable occasions. In March, the bed should be again stirred, and the soil drawn close to the stems of the plants. The covering should be removed on fine days only, until about the latter end of April, when it must be taken away altogether to make room for the top-cloth or awning, which should then he erected over the bed. A cheap and simple awning, consisting of a few uprights and rafters, and a piece of canvas, may be erected by any one possessing the minutest development of the organ of constructiveness; the subjoined figure, which we trust requires but little explanation, is intended to represent
The canvas is fastened along the ridge a a, and should be long enough to reach down to the ground. A roller, b b, is fixed to the lower edge of the canvas, and a cord attached to the ridge is brought down under the canvas, round the roller, and up over the canvas to a pulley at c; so that by pulling or slackening the cord d, the canvas is rolled up or let down. On the other side of the frame there is also another cord, canvas, roller, and pulley, used in the same manner, and for the same purpose. The blooming season draws on apace in May, and from the moment that the flowers commence to show colour, neither sunshine nor rain must be allowed to fall upon them. Still, a free circulation of air must be constantly kept up, and therefore the canvas should not be let down close to the ground except in windy weather, which is exceedingly prejudicial to the flowers; then the canvas should be let down close on the windy side. If any bulbs have perished, or failed to produce bloom - a great eyesore in a bed - the deficiency may be supplied by transplanting others with the transplanter (see p. 141).
During the time that the flowers are in bloom, each one should be particularly examined, tulip-book in hand, and memoranda made according to their individual and general appearance. As soon as the bloom commences to fade, the awning should be removed, and the plants exposed to the full influence of the sun and air. When the sepals drop, the seed-pods should be picked off; and about the end of June, or beginning of July, when the foliage has turned yellow and shrivelled, the bulbs may be taken up, the offsets separated from them, and the stems out off with a sharp knife, about half an inch from the bulbs, and the latter put in drawers placed in the shade, there to dry and harden.
In August the bulbs should be cleaned free from dirt; their skins and the bit of stem adhering to them taken away: each one placed in its own division of the drawer, and the drawers placed in the cabinet. About this time, too, the compost should be thrown out of the bed, and the fresh com post for next season carefully turned ove and searched, for those destructive pests, the wire-worm and grub. In September, the bed may be planned and arranged in the drawers. In October the offsets should be planted out in the reserve garden. Choose a dry, airy situation; the soil should be fresh sandy loam, with a little rotten cow-manure, placed from seven to twelve inches beneath the surface. The beds should be raised six or eight inches above the alleys, formed rather convex on the surface, and provided with hoops and mats, to use as occasion may require, as protection from heavy rains, hail, and frost. Tulips never require to be artificially watered, even in the driest seasons, at any period from planting to taking up. At the same time moderate, gentle showers in spring, before the flowers appear, are most beneficial to the plants, and at such times the covers should be removed.
Tulipa Gesneriana, var - Duke of Sutherland, (a Bizarre).
The tyro, when purchasing bulbs, should select those that have not lost the brown skin - are not mouldy nor soft at the root end, and are full, solid, and rather pointed at the other.