GARDENING: Extra-tough, labour-saving tulips

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YOU can beat having to replace tulips by growing their smaller species varieties, hailing from mountainous regions in Central Asia.

They’re extremely tough and can be left in the ground where they will come back year after year, forming good­sized clumps.

All they need is a sunny spot with reasonably fertile, free­draining soil. Plant November-December, 10­15cm deep and 10­15cm apart. Remove the flowers after they have faded and apply a balanced liquid fertiliser for a month before they die down.

I have Tulipa Little Beauty, with upright bowl­shaped flowers. The hot pink petals often have a green flush on their outer edges, while the inside eye is a mix of creamy white and rich blue, 15cm tall.

Tulipa saxatilis Lilac Wonder has bowl­shaped mauve­pink flowers, with a paler interior and a luminous, well­defined eye. Ideally suited to pots or windowboxes, 25cm tall.

Tulipa tarda: Shiny, lance­shaped green leaves form loose clumps, which in early to mid­spring are crowned with white­tipped yellow flowers, often with a reverse that is flushed with red and green, 15cm tall.