I’ve been busy in the Netherlands this weekend visiting the first big bulb show of the year, the Lentetuin (spring garden). I navigated my way by (very efficient) train service northbound to Anna Paulowna area, famed for its bulb production. The weather was more chilly than I’d expected, and I regretted not taking a proper coat, but hey it added to my English eccentricity I guess, and hence I was lent a snazzy leather specimen on my first visit!
The show is held in the village’s sports hall and is transformed beyond recognition for the show. This year’s theme was England, with the centerpiece being a fantastic model of Tower Bridge and Big Ben… and of course all clothed and surrounded by every flowering bulb you could think of: hyacinths, daffodils, calla lilies, iris, crocus, tulips, and more.
The Lentetuin offers a showcase for not only existing and favourite varieties, but also for growers to show the really new things too. Sometimes only 1 single bulb is available, and they hope a shrewd visitor will notice it and say “let’s take 100,000 bulbs”… which of course does happen!
I had 2 main highlights from the show, but I need to keep these under wraps for the moment!! Aside from these there were plenty of exciting new varieties and also new ideas for refreshing ranges with new themes and collections.
Tulips; I think it’s about time the fringed varieties came into fashion, the flowerheads are the size of a tennis-ball and appear crystallized and drenched in colour. At the moment we offer tulip 'Crown Jewels' but there are some fresh new bicolours to be discovered too! Stripes are another thing that just seem to get better and better in tulips - the newer types are now much stronger growing than the heirloom varieties and the colour combinations seem endless
Of course, hyacinths were also a major feature of the show, and our very own hyacinth ‘Midnight Mystique’ was looking dark, brooding and handsome and even 20 years after it was first seen (at this very show) it still draws in the crowd! I also saw some fresh new colours which will help in modernizing hyacinths for today’s gardens and windowsills! And, these days breeders work to tone down the fragrance and make it more spicy, so it’s more ‘nose-friendly’!
There were plenty of specialist bulb displays too, where I marvelled over loads of different snowdrops (no yellows!), dwarf iris, fritillaria and even pleiones. Now, pleiones are one of the easiest orchids to grow and are hardy outdoors too. They look so exotic and can even be grown on the windowsill. We hope to extend our range in the very near future.
In terms of daffs, there were plenty to keep me happy, from luscious doubles to glowing pinks…quite a few nice smaller ones too, for containers and gardens with a bit less space! For something really different, try the bulbocodium types like ‘Golden Bells’, with 20+ flowers per bulb!
A misty visit to a supplier after the show also showed me the earliest, brightest crocus and a very different-coloured dwarf iris, so keep your eyes peeled for those too!
Thanks for reading,
Iris display at Lentetuin
New bright orange crocus