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As Ruby Glow spurge blooms with acid-yellow flowers the smoky purple stems and leaves highlight the striking purple flare at the base of each tulip petal.

It’s raining – again. Trying to work in the garden at this time of year means donning full waterproofs and accepting I’m going to be as muddy as the dogs by the time I come back indoors. Those on the east coast are probably jealous of my mud, however,  since they haven’t seen the ground for snow in months!

With the log fire burning, a mug of steaming tea by my side and the steady flow of raindrops visible through the window it’s hard to believe that most of these photos were taken almost a year ago. Yet somehow seeing these glorious tulips – a promise of spring – makes me smile.

So to cheer us all up let me introduce you to one of my favorite springtime tulips – Princess Irene, named after a Dutch Princess. This debutante entered the gardening world in 1949 when she received an award for merit by the Royal Horticulture Society.

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The classic shaped flowers are a rich burnt orange with a purple flame flaring upwards from the base, and whereas many tulips have rather nondescript leaves the foliage on this variety is a rich blue-green.

Variegated Ascot Rainbow spurge, spiky Angelina sedum and coral flowers of Flamingo heather - great options to consider

Variegated Ascot Rainbow spurge, spiky Angelina sedum and coral flowers of Flamingo heather – great options to consider

Ideas for plant partners

Highlight those remarkable purple markings by combining the tulips with a dark leaved spurge (Euphorbia sp,) or purple coral bells (Heuchera sp.). Add a golden conifer for sparkle and perhaps one of the spring blooming heather with light orange flowers for a color echo with a unique texture e.g. Calluna ‘Flamingo’. Plant the whole caboodle in a bold orange pot and you have a sassy spring combo that will chase the rain away.

Planted the previous fall this container now bursts into life with 'Princess Irene' tulips bringing great color and vertical interest.

Planted the previous fall this container now bursts into life with ‘Princess Irene’ tulips bringing great color and vertical interest.

Vital statistics

Height; 18″

Bloom time; early-mid spring

Best in full sun

Fragrant

Plan now for fall

Tulips are planted in fall but you may be able to find these for sale as potted bulbs ready to bloom in your favorite nursery. If not, don’t despair. Order now for delivery in time to plant for this fall. I highly recommend Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. Fabulous service, great products and frankly they are just two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Tell them I sent you.

PS

If you love tulips, you’ll enjoy reading about my amazing tulip-filled trip to Filoli Gardens in sunny California this time last year.

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