GARDENING: The diminishing returns of tulips

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IT’S a story of diminishing returns with big, blousy tulips – magnificent first year, the display getting steadily worse with each passing season.

Some people treat tulips like annuals and replant every autumn - easy (but costly) if you grow them in pots.

There is a middle way - grow them for two years in pots, then replace with new bulbs.

My new bulbs, bought from Harts Nursery at Harrogate Autumn Show all grow to approximately 50cm:

•Beauty of Parade: a yellow Darwin tulip, flowering April.

l•Spring Green, early spring flowering, white and green, with broad, white, slightly feathered petals each with a bright green central band.

•Carnival de Nice, double bloom red-and-white striped blooms that look like peonies.

•Rems Favourite, pure white with a huge purple flame, flowers mid- to late season.

As I have a heavy clay soil, I grow tulips in pots, in a multi-purpose compost mixed with loam, as they hate cold, wet soil in winter.

They like the sun, so make sure you put the containers in a sunny spot - when they flower, you can get away with putting them in a shadier place.

Plant 15cm deep between now and November for a glorious show in spring.