Tulipa ‘Flaming Purissima’

I’m an idea thief. I’ve admitted it before and I’ll confess it again — if someone dangles a great idea in my face, it’s going to get snatched. So, when Jacqueline van der Kloet (the Dutch Bulb Sorceress par excellence) mentioned that Tulipa ‘Flaming Purissima’ perennializes reliably, I was thumbing through my catalogs before we hung up the phone.

The only thing standing between you and a torrid affair with tulips is the fact that most tulips act like annuals, right? What you don’t need is a plant that performs briefly in spring and then has to replanted the following autumn. Even if you have the budget (and tulips really aren’t wallet-busters), is it worth the backache? So, if you had a wish — wouldn’t a perennial tulip top the list (after world peace and an end to hunger, of course)? I mean = REALLY perennial. Not just “sorta” perennial. Well, your pleas have been answered.

I’m not talking about one of those itty bitty species tulips here. ‘Flaming Purissima’ is full-figured. Plus, it debuts early. Really early. Overlapping daffodils, synchronizing with Magnolia stellata and all those outrageous blue pulmonarias. It might win the “first tulip on the block” designation (not that anyone’s competing…).

And don’t you love a tulip that has unpredictably colored petals? The hallmark of ‘Flaming Purissima’ is that it keeps you guessing. Every flower is different. Most are white with red flares and flames streaking the petals. Others are almost pure vibrant cherry red with white “nerves”. Many are somewhere between those two variables. So a stand of ‘Flaming Purissima’ (and the only way to plant tulips is in batches of 50 — we’re in agreement on that rule, correct?) will have diversity, intrigue, and a radiant glow.

Mine grow in full sun on a dry bank that is as close as anyone in New England can come to the native conditions of the Fosteriana tulips that are in ‘Flaming Purissima’s lineage. Since mine grow close to the street where they can’t really look shabby (got to keep up appearances), I clip off the spent flowers immediately and have limited patience with yellowing foliage. A little yellowing is tolerated, and then the whole shebang is cut back before anyone can call the local newspaper and report that Tovah Martin is slipping into neglect. Despite less than perfect treatment, ‘Flaming Purissima’ is on its fourth performance.

You’re wondering about deer, aren’t you? I just spray with a deterrent and it does the trick. As for voles, my secret is to sandwich the bulbs between crushed oyster shells (you can buy them in large bags from the farm feed store as “chicken grit”). It works.

So no more excuses. Now that you’ve found a tulip (try www.johnscheepers.com) that is your dream come true, give it a whirl. Next spring is going to be magic.

Check out my terrarium article in this Saturday’s Daily Telegraph at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardeningequipment/8465552/Best-in-glass-Tovah-Martins-terrariums.html

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9 Responses to Tulipa ‘Flaming Purissima’

  1. Cheryl Monroe says:

    Tovah, I am enjoying your blog immensely and will not tell my husband that is why there has been such a drain on the checking account lately ;)
    Cheryl

    • Tovah Martin says:

      You know Cheryl, I can hardly keep up with all the great plants I’ve discovered. Right now I’m just covering the “tried and true” — plants I’ve grown for years. There are so many unsung heroes out there. I’ve got my work cut out for me. Thank you for tuning in — REALLY. It’s so fulfilling to have an audience to share feedback.

  2. Lisa from PA says:

    What I like about these is that no two seem alike. How unusual that is with a tulip! These really stand out nicely and I even like the name. My poor angelique’s got beaten down in the hurricane-like rain and wind last night and now they’re in full bloom in a prostrate pose. Guess I’ll have a vase filled with them in the dining room tomorrow! Tovah~ congratulations on your article in the Daily Telegraph! How exciting! I’m going to print it out for future reference.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Don’t you love the unpredictability factor, Lisa? When Jacqueline planted them at the New York Botanical Garden — there were more deeper pinks also. But tell me = Have your Angeliques come back year after year? Tasha Tudor’s rebloomed in Vermont reliably. Sorry they got “whupped”. Thank you so much for the kind words about the Daily Telegraph. It was a real thrill.

  3. Lisa from PA says:

    Actually, my Angelique’s kinda fizzled out in year 2 and 3 and now at year 4, they are half the size and half as many bulbs. I should really dig them out and replace them. They are interplanted with my favorite ‘Globemaster’ alliums.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Actually, your batting average isn’t bad, Lisa. Except for the ‘Flaming Purissima’s and my species tulips, I rarely get more than one year’s performance. I have a stand of 200 in front of my house (it’s on the verge of blooming now — I’ll put it up when it pops) and none rebloom. But then, they’re not planted in sun. I’m experimenting more with Jacqueline’s other recommendations next year. But ‘Flaming Purissima’ is the most beguiling, for sure.

      Oh — and check out http://www.terrariumwise.com = it’s up and running now. Had a little trouble with receiving Comment feed, but that’s fixed.

  4. tulipomaniac says:

    I will steal your idea you stole and try some of these beauties as well. Thanks! I am pleased to report that Tulipa ‘Prinses Irene’ naturalizes pretty well. Give it a try.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      I’m definitely going to give ‘Prinses Irene’ a try, Steve. I love that tulip, thank you. Any other promising naturalizers that you’ve tested and can recommend to us?

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