Try this tulip combination

As Parham House in West Sussex prepares to plants out bulbs for next spring, head gardener Tom Brown considers one of his favourite tulip combinations. 


Try this tulip combination from Parham House

There are some 10,000 tulip bulbs to be planted at Parham House in West Sussex this autumn in readiness for a spectacular display next spring. A display that not only has to look good in the garden, but also provide ample cuttings for the fine, Elizabethan house. “There’s a 100-year-old tradition of cut flowers here at Parham,” says head gardener Tom Brown, “with flowers chosen specifically to complement the decor in each room of the house.”

The garden provides as many as 25 buckets of flowers a week for the flower arrangers and tulips are a key choice at the start of the season. “Late double tulips give us that classic or timeless feel we want in the displays, and the range of style and colour makes them a perfect focal flower in any arrangement.”

Within the four-acre walled garden, the tulips for cutting are planted in trenches on free-draining soil. These are dug a little deeper to encourage longer stems. Other plantings are devised for the borders, either one colour en masse for impact, or in carefully considered combinations, with plans this year for a white border, a blue border and also a red and plum border – directly inspired by the sumptuous floral arrangement shown here.

Featured tulips

1 Tulipa ‘Black Hero’
With T. ‘Queen of Night’ as part of its parentage, you know this tulip is a classic. The exquisite, artichoke-like, double blooms elevate this tulip above most other dark-flowered types. Late April to May. 60cm.

2 Tulipa ‘La Belle Époque’
The large, fully double flowers have a sumptuous, smoky peach colour that have the ability to lighten darker combinations with sophistication. Mid to late April. 40cm. USDA 3a-7b†.

3 Tulipa ‘Antraciet’
This fully double, opulently rich, crimson tulip has an outstanding depth of colour and it continues to impress as the flowers open, and even as the petals gracefully fall. Mid to late April. 50cm. USDA 4a-8b.

Other plants shown include the purple-toned, fern-like leaves of Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ and its cow parsley-like flowers; the fine, glaucous foliage of Thalictrum flavum subsp. glaucum; and flowers of bleeding heart Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Valentine’.


Useful information
See the 2018 Parham House & Gardens tulip display from Easter through to May. Parham, Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 4HS. Tel 01903 742021,


Photograph Andrew Montgomery

This article was taken from a feature in the November 2017 issue of Gardens Illustrated (253). 


How to make a floral Advent calendar
previous feature Article
Key plants for an ornamental meadow
next feature Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here