|Tulip 'Abba' in the peony bed, with tree peonies, candytuft, spurge, and lamb's ears|
The best seem to be the doubles, for some reason. This is the third year for this early double tulip 'Abba', and it seems to get stronger and more numerous every year.
|Tulip 'Abba', with mugo pine, candytuft, and lily foliage|
|Double early tulip 'Abba'|
This double early yellow tulip 'Monte Carlo' has also returned undiminished in its second year. This one is a solid clear yellow, with no interior markings.
|Double early tulip 'Monte Carlo'|
It is in a sunny spot in my backyard patio bed, but it's not a spot I keep particularly dry as there are moisture-loving roses, filipendula, and siberian iris nearby. Some may find the intense ball of yellow overwhelming, but I like strong color in spring.
|Tulip 'Monte Carlo', with siberian iris and filipendula|
Another good returner is this fosteriana tulip aptly named 'Juan'. It has large, flamboyant red-orange blooms with yellow interiors, and fantastic purple-mottled foliage. The flowers fan out into a lovely star shape when open to the sun, and roll tightly closed on overcast days.
|Fosteriana tulip 'Juan'|
These are actually in a part shade location at the bottom of a slope - quite possibly the worst location for a tulip - but have returned nicely. For some reason the squirrels seem to enjoy lopping off their heads periodically.
|Fosteriana tulip 'Juan' with Hypericum (St. John's Wort)|
I have some "plain old tulip" tulips along the front of the house, in a narrow west-facing crevice between the front walk and the building, which are in perhaps the hottest, sunniest, driest spot in my yard. They predate both me and the previous owner of the house, and have been blooming every May like clockwork for at least ten years. These are the only ones I have in truly tulip-friendly conditions.
|Unindentified red tulips|
I haven't been as lucky with every tulip I've planted. The single early tulip 'Purple Prince', planted in the same spot as 'Monte Carlo', put on a disappointing show in its second year, with only a few scattered bulbs returning. It is a lovely tulip though - the mauvey-purple shade is just perfect with the spring green of fresh foliage. In my book, worth replanting periodically to keep it going.
|Patio bed with tulips 'Monte Carlo' and 'Purple Prince'. Last year there were twice as many purples as yellows - most of the purples failed to return.|
Tulip 'Sweetheart' returned somewhat from last year, but noticeably diminished. I planted more of these last year, thank goodness, or there would be only 1-2 total. Again, its delicate loveliness earns it a spot in my garden, even as a semi-annual.
|Tulip 'Sweetheart' with narcissus 'Katie Heath', tree peony and geraniums|
New this year is tulip 'Princess Irene', a well-known classic. I certainly hope she returns, because she is a stunner for sure! I will do my best to keep her hot and dry. She is next to a barberry, so hopefully that should not be too hard.
|Tulip 'Princess Irene' with purple barberry|
Have any particular kind of tulips perennialized well in your garden?