BESSIE, 1847        
Although unusually old for an English florists’ tulip, ‘Bessie’ can still “break” so beautifully that it wins Premier Flame in shows of the Wakefield and North of England Tulip Society. It’s small-flowered, with burgundy flames on white petals that reflex charmingly as they mature. Broken, 16”, zones 4a-7b(8bWC), from the Hortus Bulborum. Last offered in 2014. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.
BLUE FLAG, 1750        Rarest & Web-Only
The first time this sumptuous, pearly violet, Double Late tulip bloomed, George Washington was still a teenager. Looking a bit like a lavender peony, it’s been favored by connoisseurs ever since, including Anna Pavord who writes in The Tulip that it “holds the record in my own garden for longevity of bloom, standing in good fettle for nearly a month.” 10-12”, zones 4b-7a(8aWC), from the Hortus Bulborum. Last offered in 2017. With luck the Hortus will offer us more bulbs this fall. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.
BRILLIANT STAR, 1906        
Once known as “the Christmas tulip” because it can be forced into bloom for the winter holidays, this brilliant little tulip blooms unusually early outdoors, too. Its glossy red petals are pointed, giving it a star-like form, and when they open wide in the sun to reveal their bright yellow and black center, the effect is truly “grand, rich, and dazzling” (de Jager catalog, 1949). Single Early, 10-12”, zones 3a-7b(8bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2012. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.
BRUNHILDE, 1901        
Named for the blonde-haired valkyrie who perishes in flames at the end of Wagner’s Gotterdammerung, this striking tulip has snow-white petals marked with a broad blaze of sunny yellow – or is that fiery yellow? It first caught our eye many years ago at the Hortus Bulborum, and ever since then we’ve been waiting to offer it. Single Early, 10-12”, zones 4a-7b(8bWC), from the Hortus Bulborum. Last offered in 2011. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.
CAFE BRUN, 1840        
Opening from dragon-mouthed buds that may remind you of the blood-thirsty plant in The Little Shop of Horrors, ‘Cafè Brun’s ruffled, jagged, over-caffeinated flowers are a deep gold intricately patterned with dusky-red. Although its name means “Brown Coffee” — that is, coffee with milk — it’s not really brown, just wild and cool. Be sure to look for its tiny horns and spurs. (For even older parrots, see ‘Amiral’, ‘Markgraaf’, and ‘Perfecta’.) Parrot, 12-14”, zones 4a-7b(8bWC), from the Hortus Bulborum. Last offered in 2014. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.
CARDINAL RAMPOLLA, 1913        
When I first saw ‘Cardinal Rampolla’ at the Hortus Bulborum, I grabbed my camera in excitement thinking “I hope we can offer this someday!” Its broad, spade-shaped petals are a rich, dusky gold brushed with burnt orange and cinnamon. A.k.a. ‘Apricot’ and ‘Safrano’, it’s named for Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro, who became a cause celebre when his election to Pope was vetoed by the Emperor of Austria. Single Early, 12-14”, zones 4a-7b(8bWC), from the Hortus. Last offered in 2008. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.
CHRYSOLORA, 1872        
The finest yellow tulip of the late Victorian age, ‘Chrysolora’ was offered in virtually every US catalog from Rochester’s Briggs and Bros. of 1872 well into the 1920s. Charles Allen in his 1893 Bulbs and Tuberous-Rooted Plants included it on his short list of a dozen best Single Early tulips (with ‘Couleur Cardinal’, ‘Keizerskroon’, ‘Lac van Rijn’, and ‘Pottebakker White’) and praised it as “one of the earliest, deep yellow, and handsome.” Single Early, 10-12 inches, zones 4a-7b(8bWC), from the Hortus. Last offered in 2016. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.
COTTAGE MAID, 1857        
Now all but extinct, this sturdy little rose and white tulip was a popular American sweetheart for many, many years. New York City’s J.M. Thorburn offered it as early as 1872, and it continued to be widely catalogued well into the 1930s, a reflection of its charm and excellence. Thanks to the Hortus Bulborum for saving it! Single Early, 10”, zones 4a-7b(8bWC), from the Hortus. Last offered in 2016. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.
COURONNE POURPRE BONTLOF, 1881        
Rippling leaves edged with ribbons of gold make a stunning setting for the wine-red blooms of ‘Variegated Purple Crown’. We’ve traced it back as far as Thomas Moore’s 1881 Epitome of Gardening, and in 1889 The Journal of Horticulture called it “quite as handsome as variegated yuccas.” Its French name suggests that it originated in Flanders, a back-country part of the Netherlands famed for its expert gardeners and independent tastes. (Does that sound like you?) Single Early, 10-12”, zones 4a-7b(8bWC), from the Hortus. Last offered in 2011. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.
DIANA, 1909        
Cool ‘Diana’ (named for the goddess of woodlands, wildlife, and the moon) is an elegant ivory, a favorite color in the stylish new perennial borders of the Arts and Crafts era. In fact, Gertrude Jekyll herself featured drifts of white tulips like ‘Diana’ in many of her dreamy cottage gardens. Single Early, 10-12”, zones 3a-7b(8bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2009. ‘Diana’ is now commercially extinct, alas!
Page 2 of Tulips: Lost?
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