Tulip Festival 2019

Thursday's selection of tulip displays

There will be beautiful displays of tulips across the castle's gardens and grounds during April. A blaze of colour in pots, beds and lawns. Watch this page for recent photographs.

The stunning tulips are flowering a few weeks earlier than expected here at the castle, mainly due to the warmer weather we have been having. This year’s Tulip Festival features  60,000 tulips and over 130 different named tulips, including the mandarin-scented Ballerina, the striking, deep maroon Queen of the Night and the playfully striped Marilyn planted throughout the castle gardens and grounds and even includes the world’s first ever tulip & narcissi labyrinth, which is planted up with Red Apeldoorn tulips and white Thalia Narcissi. The Tulip Festival showcases how versatile tulips can be in any garden. Keep an eye out for the deep crimson, fringed Valery Gergiev, it’s a fantastic, slightly bizarre-looking tulip that is sure to please.


What is so wonderful about tulips is that over the centuries they have been cultivated so well that we are confident there is a variety to suit all tastes, whether you like the fussy parrot types such as ‘Black Parrott’ with its unusual flower shape and colour or the graceful lily-flowered ones such as ‘Purple Dream’ or ‘White Triumphator’,. For a really natural look ‘Spring Green’ are beautiful planted in a border with herbaceous plants, but if you just want to dazzle your neighbours, plant up some pots with vibrant ‘Olympic Flame’, Red Impression’ or ‘Apeldoorn of Beauty’. My personal favourite tulip is the very subtle pink, double late peony-flowered tulip ‘Angelique’.

The history of tulips is fascinating as it’s filled with intrigue, skulduggery, broken hearts and instant fortunes made on the stock exchange. The first known “Tulipmania” was in Turkey during the time of Suleiman I, commonly known as ‘Suleiman the Magnificent’ and "Kanuni" in his realm (1520-1566), this is when tulips were cultivated and developed for the Sultan and his entourage During the reign of Ahmed III (1703-1730) the period was known as “The Age of the Tulip” as they were highly prized as a symbol of great wealth and prestige, mirrors were even placed behind specimens to give the illusion of many more!

It’s good to remember that tulips don’t flower for long, therefore we carefully choose different varieties that flower at slightly different times which normally allows for about a 4 week festival, depending on weather. In our large terracotta pots, alongside the water rill we planted ‘Pink Impression’ tulips with pretty blue Myositis (Forget-me-not) and Crown Imperials as a centrepiece. These are looking beautiful by the ornate gilt lion fountains that flow into the water rill, leading one’s eyes through to the unique labyrinth beyond.


In the Stumpery Garden  we have focused on the smaller, more delicate Botanical tulips such as 'sylvestris’ and ‘Persian pearls’ which look stunning in amongst the ancient tree stumps, and for colour we have added the striking red ‘linifoliea’ and ‘little beauty’  that complement the narcissi, scillas and snakeshead fritillaries. The Cut Flower Garden and Organic Kitchen Garden have some stunning tiered displays which add dramatic structures to the gardens, nick-named the ‘wedding cake’ and ‘christening cake’. There are around 16,000 Dutch Iris beside the thatched roundhouse in the Wildflower Garden. 

A few tips from the castle garden team:

The best time to plant your tulip bulbs is in November and at least 4 inches deep.
Ensure you check your tulip bulbs before buying or planting them, avoiding soft or rotten bulbs, as damaged bulbs are prone to disease and unlikely to do well.
Mix your tulips to extend your flowering time in pots.
Plant bulbs thickly in pots to give a high impact.
Use other combinations with tulips such as ‘myosotis’, ‘primulas’, ‘wallflowers’ and ‘pansies’.
In borders plant your tulips in swathes or drifts to give a natural look.
As the month progresses continue sowing and planting vegetables outside
Make sure you water newly planted shrubs and trees due to the dry weather
Tie in new shoots of climbers
Continue to divide your perennials and stake your tall growing perennials such as delphiniums.
Happy Gardening !

Arundel Castle is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am to 5pm, bank holiday Mondays and every Monday in August, until 03 November 2019.

Cat in hat