Tulips at Aviary garden
Posted 25 April 2020


Tulip mania at Waddesdon

With the arrival of spring, the gardens at Waddesdon are bursting into life and richly-coloured tulips are taking centre-stage.

The hard work done by our gardeners and volunteers last autumn is paying off and with tulip season truly upon us, Waddesdon is covered in swathes of these vibrant blooms. Although tulips have always featured in the spring bedding displays here, this year our Gardens Manager Mike Buffin has tried something new. Not only have tulips been used exclusively in the Aviary Garden this spring, but they have also been reintroduced to the aptly named Tulip Patch, for the first time since James and Dorothy de Rothschild were living in the house.

Aviary Garden display
Designed by Mike, Richard (Assistant Gardens Manager) and Michael Lubbe (Lubbe Bulbs, our supplier), the Aviary Garden bedding display uses seventeen different types of tulip to create the rich colours usually associated with our Victorian summer bedding in the Parterre. Almost 20,000 tulips were planted by hand, taking the Gardens team and  volunteers four days to complete!

Spring tulips Aviary Garden

Tulip Patch
Waddesdon’s Tulip Patch is so-called because in Baron Ferdinand’s time, hybrid tulips from the Aviary Garden and Parterre would be transplanted to the Tulip Patch to naturalise (grow as they would in the wild), once they were past their best. Every year, more would have been added and although hybrid tulips don’t tend to naturalise as well as other bulbs such as daffodils, crocus and snowdrops, they probably flowered for around three years before fading.

Tulip patch bedding tulips at Waddesdon

Last year, 5000 tulip bulbs from the 2019 spring bedding were dried and stored ready to be planted with the help of 800 local primary school children last October, as part of a special event run by our Education team. The children were so speedy that after two days they had already planted the 5000 bulbs! In total, they helped plant a massive 90,000 bulbs in several areas of the garden.

Meadow tulips were also added to the main grass area in Tulip Patch. This was done using a Dutch bulb planting machine supplied by Lubbe Bulbs. Amazingly, this meant around 35,000 bulbs were planted in just a few hours instead of the weeks it would normally take to plant by hand! Although the bedding tulips from the Aviary Garden will fade out after a few years, as they did in Baron Ferdinand’s day, the meadow tulips will naturalise in the grass and return year on year.

Now that the tulips are out in full force, the effects of the planting are breath-taking. Mike is planning to enhance the displays each year and we hope that the annual bulb planting with local schools will become a regular Waddesdon event.

Close up of tulips in Aviary Garden

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Tulip species used in the Aviary Garden:
Tulipa ‘Albert Heijn’ (Fosteriana – April, pink flowers), Tulipa ‘Apeldoorn’ (Darwin Hybrid – April, red), Tulipa ‘Ballerina’ (Lily Flowered – May, orange), Tulipa ‘Carlton’ (Double Early – April, red), Tulipa ‘Couleur Cardinal’ (Triumph – April/May, red), Tulipa ‘Denmark’ (Triumph – April, yellow and red), Tulipa ‘Flair’ (Single Early – April, yellow and red), Tulipa ‘Gabriella’ (Triumph – April/May, pink and white), Tulipa ‘Ice Wonder’ (Double Early – April/May, white), Tulipa ‘Monte Carlo’ (Double Early – April, yellow), Tulipa ‘Orange Emperor’ (Fosteriana – April, orange and green),Tulipa ‘Orange Princess’ (Double Late – May, orange), Tulipa ‘Passionale’ (Triumph – April, purple), Tulipa ‘Pink Diamond’ (Late Single – May, pink), Tulipa ‘Pretty Woman’ (Lily Flowered – April/May, red), Tulipa ‘Princess Irene’ (Triumph – April/May, orange and red), Tulipa ‘Purple Dream’ (Lily Flowered – April/May, purple) and Tulipa ‘Sapporo’ (Lily Flowered – May, cream)

Tulip species used in the Tulip Patch:
Tulipa ‘Tinka’, ‘Taco’, T. clussiana var. chrysantha, ‘Peppermint Stick’ and ‘Tubergens Gem’, T. batalinii ‘Honky Tonk’, T. turkestanica and T. sylvestris