By Stephanie Cavanaugh
THE MOST SPECTACULAR tulip display I ever saw was in front of a salmon-painted townhouse a few blocks from my home.
A front garden, about 15 feet deep and about as wide (though interrupted by a sidewalk), was solidly inlaid with tulips the precise hue of the house. It was as if someone had taken a giant paint roller and had run it from the sidewalk to the house and then up to the rooftop. A breathtaking whoosh of color.
I did not return to see the petals fall, preferring to keep that glorious sight in my ever-mind. Stupidly, I took no photos, which would have been an aide to that ever-mind, which sometimes doesn’t last as long as I expect.
I’m thinking of this while flipping through the new Colorblends catalogue, which found its way through the letterbox this afternoon. Last year I was a few weeks late— hey, it’s still summer—suggesting you buy bulbs now, not waiting for sweater weather. The best bulbs sell out fast! Or at least the bulb you’re particularly salivating over.
The easiest way to achieve a carpet of tulips is to flip to page 70 of the catalogue, or click on the link, for the section called (and rightly so) BedSpreads.
These collections, which seem intended for queen- and king-sized beds, blend four or more varieties with a range of bloom time, height, and color.
Gamay,* for instance, includes six varieties of pink and purple tulips that begin blooming at the start of the season (around the time you see the first daffodils) and continue through late spring. Somewhere mid-spring the highs and lows, darks and lights, are all in bloom together for a splendid wave of color and texture. The assortment runs $250 for 600 bulbs, $912 for 2,400.
Beaujolais* is a sweet mix of five varieties, a sweet combination of palest buttercup yellow and several shades of pink, all timed for a mid-spring blast. It’s a short run. Pow. Over and done. Yank the bulbs and plant your summer bloomers. $215 per 500 bulbs, $760 for 2,000.
Have only a twin bed-sized space, or a crib? There are many more-modest singletons and collections, such as the enchanting Akebono, a semi-double pale yellow flower that has a bit of a rose blush on the outside petals. Just $22 for 25 bulbs.
If you’re still into Barbie come next spring, Pink Cubed combines three gorgeous bloomers that start with the daffodils and last through spring. $42 for 100.
Tulips may be the highlights of the Colorblends collections, but they also offer daffodils, hyacinths, allium, and amaryllis. The company has been my go-to for the last few years, with breathtaking, well-priced, and well-described bulbs, and the staff is terrific. Shipments are made at the perfect planting time for your area, so you’re not stuffing bags of bulbs in the coat closet for a few months. If their slow arrival makes you nervous, call them. They’ll cheerfully give you a heads-up on when your bulbs should arrive.
Now off to Costco for a little comparison-shopping.
*BOTH Gamay and Beaujolais are already sold out. Dang it. I warned you. Maybe you’ll be besotted with something else . . .