This time of year it’s easy to page though the catalogs and  blow the budget on big, showy tulips.  But before you load the shopping cart with Darwin Hybrids, Single Lates, and Parrots in a parade of exciting colors, pause for a reality check–

Most will not come back. 

Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s true.  Hybrid tulips are not reliably perennial, especially here in the South.  Ok, you may get a few blooms the second year, but the only truly perennial tulips are the Species Tulips.   And while they are not as showy as their big relatives, these native of the Mediteranean and Asia Minor  seem to blend better in my( rather untamed) mixed borders.

Here’s Tulip clusiana chrysantha blooming at the edge of our walk.   I love this flower! 

The  red and white lady Jane tulip is another species  that I hope to add this year.

And while you’re bulb shopping, consider adding Muscari to your landscape.  These small blue flowers have bloomed in my toughest spots for more than 20 years.

Here they are on the east side of an established oak.   If you’ve struggled with  crocus and rogue squirrels like I have, consider muscari, it’s another bulb for the real world–a tough, reliable survivor.  We should all grow more of those.