John Scheepers Beauty from Bulbs
In Focus: Green Tulip China Town
Pictured from top to bottom: Tulip China Town as it begins to open, as it is in full bloom, Tulips Artist and Golden Artist, and Tulip Flaming Spring Green.
Green Tulip China Town makes spring worth waiting for. It noses its way into the world as the sun strengthens and the ground really warms up, after most of the early and mid-season bloomers have faded. Before you know it, China Town unfurls its striking white-edged, blue-green foliage like little garden explosions. That is when the real fun begins~don't take your eyes off of them for one day. All of a sudden, you will notice thick buds emerging from the foliage, camouflaged by their matching white-edged blue-greenness, poised for takeoff like floral missiles. One by one, the buds burst into the most beautiful pale pink flowers with prominent green feathering, perched above their peacock-worthy, two-tone foliage. Each day, particularly when planted in dappled sunlight, the flowers deepen in color, finally maturing to deep phlox-pink with somewhat less prominent green feathering. They are quite breathtaking to behold. It is hard to believe that they came out of the ordinary little brown-sheathed bulbs that you planted last fall in the cold soil.
Registered in 1988, Green or Viridiflora Tulip China Town is a highly awarded sport of Golden Artist. In horticultural zone 5, it normally blooms in May depending on spring temperatures. It is shorter than most late-blooming Tulips, growing to just 12 inches tall, so it is perfect for border clusters where you can take advantage of its big show. It is quite something to see. In our eyes, China Town has the best marginated foliage of all Tulips with the thickest, most highly contrasted edging. (Did you know that the phenomena of marginated foliage occurs due to a lack of or insufficient pigmentation and chlorophyll in the plant cells on the outer petal edges?)
China Town is a long-lasting flower in the garden as well as a spectacular cut flower. Plant it in the fall after the soil has cooled down to around 55°F, in neutral pH, well-draining soil in full to partial sunlight, a minimum of about six hours of daily sun: 6″ to 8″ deep and 6″ part. (In areas warmer than horticultural zone 7, Tulip bulbs should be prechilled for a minimum of ten weeks starting in mid-October~otherwise, they will not develop mature root systems and will yield more foliage than flowers). If you plan to grow them on for a potential second year of blooms, do not cut display beds for flower bouquets, top dress the planting three times a year with a granular organic flower bulb fertilizer (somewhere around 4-10-6 is a good composition), dead-head spent flowers to prevent the formation of seed pods, and permit the foliage to thrive unfettered for the longest period of photosynthesis possible. Once the foliage dies back to a yellow-brown color, it may be raked and discarded. (Take precautions with wildlife: Tulip bulbs could be snack food for tunneling rodents or marauding squirrels, and its flowers are a delicacy for brazen deer.)
If you love Green Tulips like we do, you might also fall in love with Artist, Flaming Spring Green, Formosa, Golden Artist, Greenland, Pimpernel, Spring Green, Virichic and our ephemeral Green Tulip Mixture.