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  • Writer's pictureHeather Thomas

Creating Color Combinations With Tulips

My color blueprints for a beautiful spring garden

We have been unseasonably warm this week with temperatures peaking at 80 degrees here in New Jersey in November. I know this can happen. That's why my bulbs are still inside, lined up in trays. They are waiting patiently for the final strands of unseasonable heat to cycle out of the forecast Now, the long range forecast shows a coming shift in the weather.

That turn towards the cold is what I have been waiting for. Coupled with the end of peak leaf time, that means that my bulbs can finally make their journey into the ground.

I normally think out the color combinations for my bulb plantings in my head and transfer the combinations into excel. This year, laid up with Covid, I had nothing but time on my hands for a few days. I decided to go a step further and create mood boards to represent what I would be planting in each bed. I'm pleased with how the mood boards turned out.

They are a good representation of what I have to resolve in my head when I design. I have to think in multiple dimensions, considering both the color palette and the different bloom times.

Design Number One: East Garden Palette

Many parts of the East Garden receive a full blast of the western sun. The sorbet colors I've selected for this part of the garden can stand up to the bright light this area gets. The palette looks like a glowing sunset.

The South Garden Palette | Porch Beds

This part of the garden will get a proper touch of purple for the first time. Tulip 'Purple Pride' is a new color for me this year. I wanted to try purple because I interplanted the garden beds in our south garden with Heuchera 'Black Pearl' which is a purple / maroon plant. I also have several purple cabbages in the beds. Both the Heuchera and the purple cabbages tend to last through the winter. By introducing some purple into my tulip selections, the colors will play off each other in spring.

The South Garden Palette | Azalea Beds

I have put an emphasis on my later bloomers in this design because I want the peak time for this bed to overlap with the lavender azaleas in this bed. The azaleas don't usually bloom until May which is why I have picked so many May blooming varieties. In addition to the French lates such as 'Menton' and 'Camargue', I have included my parrot tulips 'Silver Parrot' and fringed tulips 'Maja' and ''Carousel'. The later blooming tulips are among my very favorites.

The Omega Garden Palette

Out in the further reaches of my garden, I have kept the palette simple; yellow, white and blue only. After the sorbet colors elsewhere, it's nice to have a part of the garden that stays simple. Blue, yellow and white are a winning combination for spring.

I hope you have enjoyed this peak at the color combinations I have pulled together to introduce beautiful spring color into my garden next spring.


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