|Tulip 'Prinses Irene' (aka 'Princess Irene')|
The best use for tulips is to highlight nearby companions. I have Irene in two spots in my rose garden: one is in front of a barberry, where the purple streaks of the tulip really pick up the dark barberry leaves.
|Tulip 'Prinses Irene' with barberry|
The broader picture has an unruly yew and clematis in the background, with nearby purple flowering lamium under a young silvery leaved quince tree.
|Tulip 'Prinses Irene', with barberry, yew, lamium|
The second spot is in a corner near heuchera 'Pinot Gris'.
|Tulip 'Prinses Irene' with Heuchera 'Pinot Gris'|
I'm not sure about the color combination on this one - at first I hated it, but now it seems to be growing on me. 'Pinot Gris' is an odd but intriguing color, which I love against green - perhaps my brain is convincing me that anything flatters the Prinses at this point. Here is the combo from a different angle on a rainy day:
|Corner of the rose garden with tulip 'Prinses Irene', Heuchera 'Pinot Gris', Picea abies 'Little Gem'|
Also blooming now in the rose garden is this little species tulip, tulipa humilis 'Little Beauty'. It is a jewel-toned pink with lovely white and indigo blue interiors. Despite its tiny size, these bright and perky flowers make a big impact in the garden.
|Tulipa humilis 'Little Beauty' with Lamb's Ears|
It is next to lamb's ears and a dwarf abies, and overlapped briefly with the tail end of some white hyacinths.
|Tulipa humilis 'Little Beauty' with Abies balsamea 'Piccolo', Stachys, and white hyacinth|
I love the color contrast with a nearby euphorbia as well. Only the most stalwart of colors can stand up to that level of chartreuse - 'Little Beauty' can handle it. They are bright and striking even when closed.
|Tulipa humilis 'Little Beauty' with Euphorbia polychroma|
The nearby cotinus is also just beginning to leaf out. The red-burgandy leaves combine beautifully with the tulip. The tulips look a bit like little easter eggs sprouting from the ground.
|Tulipa humilis 'Little Beauty', with nearby cotinus, euphorbia, Abies balsamea|
This combination of pink and white tulips 'Christmas Marvel' and 'Schoonoord' was supposed to bloom together with pink hyacinths. Naturally, the hyacinths disappeared just as the tulips were coming in, so there was very little overlap.
|Tulips 'Christmas Marvel' (pink) and 'Schoonord' (double white)|
Still, the tulips look nice on the bright green background of my currant and gooseberry bushes. 'Schoonoord' is supposed to be a double creamy white, but it is not terribly double compared to other double tulips I have.
|Tulips 'Christmas Marvel' and 'Schoonoord'|
Finally, a few more shots of 'Abba' in context, because I just can't resist. This is another one I can't stop photographing.
|Double early tulip 'Abba' with Euphorbia 'First Blush', Lamb's Ears, candytuft; in the background are tree peonies and lilies|
|Double early tulip 'Abba' with Euphorbia 'First Blush' and Lamb's Ears|