Gardens Illustrated
Tulipa ‘Estella Rijnveld’ One of the best of the Parrot tulips, the petals exuberantly ruffled in red and white. Raised in the Netherlands in 1954 by Dr de Mol and named after his wife. Flowers in May. 55cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
© Jason Ingram

Best tulips to plant: 24 from Belcombe Court

Published: March 22, 2022 at 12:06 pm

At Belcombe Court classical parkland combines with a contemporary walled garden that in spring is alive with the bright colour of tulips. Words Anna Pavord, photography Jason Ingram

The Weilands have been at Belcombe Court for nearly 30 years. The elegant house and the outbuildings standing around it, form a rambling cluster of mellow Bath stone. Beyond the ha-ha enclosing the garden, parkland rises quite steeply to woodlands beyond. What with grottoes and temples, ponds and waterfalls, as well as an acre and a half of walled kitchen garden, owner Paul Weiland has never had to worry that the projects will run out.

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In brief

What Small, landscape park of the 18th century, with areas of modern planting. Where Wiltshire. Size Garden area of about four acres adjoining parkland and wood of more than 50 acres. Soil Stony brash. Climate temperate, Hardiness zone USDA 9a.

24 Key Tulips from Belcombe Court

Tulipa ‘Mistress Mystic’

Tulipa ‘Mistress Mystic’ A very prettily shaped tulip, the petals curving out slightly at the top. Complex shades of violet, veined over a very pale pink. Flowers late April. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Mistress Mystic’ A very prettily shaped tulip, the petals curving out slightly at the top. Complex shades of violet, veined over a very pale pink. Flowers late April. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Burning Heart’

Tulipa ‘Burning Heart’ Huge flowers, variable in their markings. Some are pale cream, streaked with red, others are flushed all over with red. Inner petals are more strongly marked than outer. Flowers April to May. 55cm. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Burning Heart’ Huge flowers, variable in their markings. Some are pale cream, streaked with red, others are flushed all over with red. Inner petals are more strongly marked than outer. Flowers April to May. 55cm. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Merlot

Tulipa ‘Merlot’ A tall, elegant tulip of the Lily-Flowered type, with petals that reflex slightly at their tips. Classically formed – a tulip of great poise. Flowers in late April. 65cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Merlot’ A tall, elegant tulip of the Lily-Flowered type, with petals that reflex slightly at their tips. Classically formed – a tulip of great poise. Flowers in late April. 65cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Ronaldo’

Tulipa ‘Ronaldo’ The beauty of this Triumph tulip lies in the complex, greyish bloom on the outside of the huge, rounded deep crimson petals. It makes a handsome, squareish flower that blooms in mid-April. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Ronaldo’ The beauty of this Triumph tulip lies in the complex, greyish bloom on the outside of the huge, rounded deep crimson petals. It makes a handsome, squareish flower that blooms in mid-April. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Flaming Spring Green’

Tulipa ‘Flaming Spring Green’ This viridiflora type is a mutation of the popular ‘Spring Green’. But rather than just green feathering, the creamy-white petals also include flares of red. A late-season option, flowering in May. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Flaming Spring Green’ This viridiflora type is a mutation of the popular ‘Spring Green’. But rather than just green feathering, the creamy-white petals also include flares of red. A late-season option, flowering in May. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Grand Perfection’

Tulipa ‘Grand Perfection’ An attempt to get close to the Rembrandt tulips of Dutch Old Master paintings, with broad flashes of red spreading over a creamy background. Flowers in late April. 45cm. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Grand Perfection’ An attempt to get close to the Rembrandt tulips of Dutch Old Master paintings, with broad flashes of red spreading over a creamy background. Flowers in late April. 45cm. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Slawa’

Tulipa ‘Slawa’ A handsome and dramatic tulip, with a tall, slightly waisted flower. The petals are almost striped, deep purple in the centre, with a band of deep pink on either side. Flowers early April. 40cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Slawa’ A handsome and dramatic tulip, with a tall, slightly waisted flower. The petals are almost striped, deep purple in the centre, with a band of deep pink on either side. Flowers early April. 40cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Carnaval de Rio’

Tulipa ‘Carnaval de Rio’ A striking bi-coloured Triumph bloom, that is well suited to its name, with brilliant red feathering on a white ground. It flowers in late April and May. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Carnaval de Rio’ A striking bi-coloured Triumph bloom, that is well suited to its name, with brilliant red feathering on a white ground. It flowers in late April and May. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Raspberry Ripple’

Tulipa ‘Raspberry Ripple’ An uncompromising combination of deep red, flamed and flared, on a white ground. Makes a strong, square-bottomed flower. An eye-catching cut flower that blooms in April. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Raspberry Ripple’ An uncompromising combination of deep red, flamed and flared, on a white ground. Makes a strong, square-bottomed flower. An eye-catching cut flower that blooms in April. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Estella Rijnveld’

Tulipa ‘Estella Rijnveld’ One of the best of the Parrot tulips, the petals exuberantly ruffled in red and white. Raised in the Netherlands in 1954 by Dr de Mol and named after his wife. Flowers in May. 55cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Estella Rijnveld’ One of the best of the Parrot tulips, the petals exuberantly ruffled in red and white. Raised in the Netherlands in 1954 by Dr de Mol and named after his wife. Flowers in May. 55cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Negrita’

Tulipa ‘Negrita’ Excellent in pots as it grows to only 45cm with purple flowers, veined with seams of an even darker purple. At the base of each petal, a surprising clear blue blotch. Flowers mid April. 45cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Negrita’ Excellent in pots as it grows to only 45cm with purple flowers, veined with seams of an even darker purple. At the base of each petal, a surprising clear blue blotch. Flowers mid April. 45cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Temple of Beauty’

Tulipa ‘Temple of Beauty’ A tulip of great poise, with sharply pointed orange petals flushed up the centre with deep pink. A descendant of the old Cottage Group tulips, known for their staying power. Flowers April to May. 60cm. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Temple of Beauty’ A tulip of great poise, with sharply pointed orange petals flushed up the centre with deep pink. A descendant of the old Cottage Group tulips, known for their staying power. Flowers April to May. 60cm. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Apricot Pride’

Tulipa ‘Apricot Pride’ A Darwin Hybrid tulip with the huge, square-shouldered blooms typical of that group. A soft colour, easy to use and lovely to pick. Flowers late April. 45cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Apricot Pride’ A Darwin Hybrid tulip with the huge, square-shouldered blooms typical of that group. A soft colour, easy to use and lovely to pick. Flowers late April. 45cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Red Dress’

Tulipa ‘Red Dress’ An unusually shaped tulip, now part of a new category, the Coronet group. The petals are of a stiff, thick texture, twisting in several directions before gathering in a crown. Flowers mid to late spring. 40cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Red Dress’ An unusually shaped tulip, now part of a new category, the Coronet group. The petals are of a stiff, thick texture, twisting in several directions before gathering in a crown. Flowers mid to late spring. 40cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Abu Hassan’

Tulipa ‘Abu Hassan’ Flowers of deep mahogany red, with an edge of deep gold around the top of the petals. It never opens up to show the inside. Flowers in early May. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Abu Hassan’ Flowers of deep mahogany red, with an edge of deep gold around the top of the petals. It never opens up to show the inside. Flowers in early May. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Greenstar’

Tulipa ‘Greenstar’ Imagine the popular green and white tulip ‘Spring Green’ reborn as a Lily-Flowered tulip and you have ‘Greenstar’. It flowers between late April and early May. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Greenstar’ Imagine the popular green and white tulip ‘Spring Green’ reborn as a Lily-Flowered tulip and you have ‘Greenstar’. It flowers between late April and early May. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Black Hero’

Tulipa ‘Black Hero’ Among the best of the Double Late tulips, because, although it is tall, it has a stem strong enough to bear its cargo. A sport of the famous T. ‘Queen of Night’. Flowers April to May. 60cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Black Hero’ Among the best of the Double Late tulips, because, although it is tall, it has a stem strong enough to bear its cargo. A sport of the famous T. ‘Queen of Night’. Flowers April to May. 60cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Ballerina’

Tulipa ‘Ballerina’ Sometimes, form in tulips is sacrificed in pursuit of size. Not so with the elegant ‘Ballerina’, which is sweetly scented and flowers in sunset shades of orange and red, netted together in an indistinguishable way. 55cm. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Ballerina’ Sometimes, form in tulips is sacrificed in pursuit of size. Not so with the elegant ‘Ballerina’, which is sweetly scented and flowers in sunset shades of orange and red, netted together in an indistinguishable way. 55cm. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Cairo’

Tulipa ‘Cairo’ A Triumph tulip that is a lovely soft sandy brown, and which gets browner as it ages. Broad, squareish petals make a flat-topped flower. An exceptional tulip and scented as well. Flowers mid April to early May. 45cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Cairo’ A Triumph tulip that is a lovely soft sandy brown, and which gets browner as it ages. Broad, squareish petals make a flat-topped flower. An exceptional tulip and scented as well. Flowers mid April to early May. 45cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Request’

Tulipa ‘Request’ Like so many other orange tulips, ‘Request’ is scented, which is a great bonus in a tulip. The warm orange of the strongly reflexed petals has a clear tongue of pink overlaid on the outside. Flowers April. 45cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Request’ Like so many other orange tulips, ‘Request’ is scented, which is a great bonus in a tulip. The warm orange of the strongly reflexed petals has a clear tongue of pink overlaid on the outside. Flowers April. 45cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b. © Jason Ingram

Tulipa ‘Gavota’

Tulipa ‘Gavota’ A mid-season Triumph tulip that flowers in late April and early May. A strong, some might say harsh, combination of brownish red, edged with pale yellow. Inside, the flower is all yellow. 50cm. AGM*. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b†.
Tulipa ‘Gavota’ A mid-season Triumph tulip that flowers in late April and early May. A strong, some might say harsh, combination of brownish red, edged with pale yellow. Inside, the flower is all yellow. 50cm. AGM*. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b†. © Jason Ingram

*Holds an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. †Hardiness ratings given where available.

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Useful information

Address Belcombe Court, Belcombe Road, Bradford On Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1LZ. Web belcombe.com Open Open occasionally for charity, see website for details. Belcombe Court will also host this summer’s Iford Arts Festival, 21-30 August. Visit ifordarts.org.uk for more information.

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