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Tulip ballerinas among Brunnera at the Keukenhof

 

In this perennial border, the tulips seem to be dancing like elegant ballerinas. The foundation for the border is composed of perennials, most of which flower in the spring but also provide attractive foliage throughout the rest of the season:

Ajuga reptans 'Catlin's Giant'
Aquilegia vulgaris 'Rosea'
Brunnera macrophylla
Brunnera macrophylla 'Variegata'
Geranium macrorrhizum 'Czakor'
Geranium macrorrhizum 'Spessart'
Omphalodes verna

None of these varieties will proliferate to the point where they threaten the others, and all of them prefer a slightly shaded site. In this filtered light, pastels such as pink, apricot-pink and creamy white are much more appropriate than they would be in the bright spring sunshine, and this is why the following spring-flowering bulbs (also in these tints) were chosen. From early April to mid-May, these varieties flower one after another:

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Blue Giant'
Chionodoxa luciliae 'Pink Giant'
Narcissus 'Sailboat'
Narcissus 'Segovia'
Tulipa 'Flaming Purissima'
Tulipa 'Maureen'
Tulipa 'Menton'
Tulipa 'Negrita'
Tulipa 'Spring Song'
Tulipa 'Christmas Dream'

All these varieties are suitable for multiple-year flowering. After their flowering period, their withering foliage gradually disappears beneath the emerging leaves and inflorescences of the surrounding perennials.

In this kind of border, the trick is to find a balance between the perennial plants and the flower bulbs: they should reinforce one another without one kind prevailing over the others. The number of flower bulbs was calculated as based on the total surface of the border. Of this number, 40% was reserved for Chionodoxa: 20% blue and 20% pink planted at a rate of 30 bulbs/m² or 36 bulbs/square yard. Another 40% was reserved for tulips planted at a rate of 12-15 bulbs/m² (15-18 bulbs/square yard). The total number of tulip bulbs was divided into equal numbers of six cultivars.
The remaining 20% of the surface was reserved for daffodils planted at 20 - 25 bulbs/m² (24-30 bulbs/square yard).

Before planting, the tulips and daffodils were combined to make a mixture that was then scattered among the existing planting in larger and smaller groups. Finally, the Chionodoxa bulbs were scattered in the same way.