Best tulips to plant: 21 from Belcombe Court
At Belcombe Court, the walled garden is alive with the bright colour of tulips in spring. Here are 21 of the best. Words Anna Pavord, photography Jason Ingram
At Belcombe Court in Wiltshire, home to classical parkland that includes grottoes, temples, ponds and waterfalls, there is a contemporary walled garden that is alive with the bright colour of tulips in spring.
The area was reconfigured by garden designer Arne Maynard. He boxed and coaxed the slope into wide grassy terraces, which fall in parallel lines down the centre. Either side, gravelled paths wind down between sets of stone steps to a pair of long, box-edged beds at the bottom, which the Weilands’ head gardener, Sue Cranch, uses as cutting gardens, filled in spring with thousands of tulips.
Read our expert guide to growing tulips.
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.
21 of the best tulips from Belcombe Court
Tulipa ‘Mistress Mystic’
Tulip ‘Mistress Mystic’ is a very prettily shaped tulip, the petals curving out
slightly at the top. Complex shades of violet are veined over a very pale pink.
Flowers late April. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Burning Heart’
Tulip ‘Burning Heart’ has 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.
Tulip ‘Merlot’ is a tall, elegant lily-flowered tulip, 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.
Tulip ‘Ronaldo’ is a Triumph tulip. Its beauty 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 ‘Flaming Spring Green’
Tulip ‘Flaming Spring Green’ is viridiflora type and 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 ‘Grand Perfection’
Tulip ‘Grand Perfection’ is 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. Read about Arne Maynard's favourite rare tulips.
Tulip ‘Slawa’ is 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 ‘Carnaval de Rio’
Tulip ‘Carnaval de Rio’ is a striking bi-coloured Triumph tulip, 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 ‘Raspberry Ripple’
Tulip ‘Raspberry Ripple’ is an uncompromising combination of deep red, flamed
and flared, on a white ground. It makes a strong, square-bottomed flower. An
eye-catching cut flower that blooms in April. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Estella Rijnveld’
Tulip ‘Estella Rijnveld’ is 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.
Tulip ‘Negrita’ is excellent in pots as it grows to only 45cm. Its purple flowers are 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.
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Tulipa ‘Temple of Beauty’
Tulip ‘Temple of Beauty’ is 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 ‘Apricot Pride’
Tulip ‘Apricot Pride’ is a 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 ‘Red Dress’
Tulip ‘Red Dress’ is 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 ‘Abu Hassan’
Tulip ‘Abu Hassan’ has 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.
Imagine the popular green and white tulip ‘Spring Green’ reborn as a Lily-Flowered tulip and you have tulip ‘Greenstar’. It flowers between late April and early May. 50cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Tulipa ‘Black Hero’
Tulip ‘Black Hero’ is 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 ‘Queen of Night’. Flowers April to May. 60cm. RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Sometimes, form in tulips is sacrificed in pursuit of size. Not so with the elegant tulip ‘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.
Tulip ‘Cairo’ is 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.
Like so many other orange tulips, tulip ‘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.
Tulip ‘Gavota’ is 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.
Address Belcombe Court, Belcombe Road, Bradford On Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1LZ. Web belcombe.com Open Open occasionally for charity, see website for details and also hosts the Iford Arts festival. Visit ifordarts.org.uk for more information.
Anna is a contributing editor of Gardens Illustrated and her books include The Tulip, The Naming of Names and Landskipping. She was awarde the Gold Veitch medal from the RHS in 2001.
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