Tarda tulips

Earlier today, I was at a local gardener's home to conduct an interview. As we wandered around her garden,  some flowering bulbs caught my eye. The flowers looked somewhat like tulips but the leaves looked just different enough to make me question what I was looking at.

It turns out they're a species tulip, Tulipa tarda, and aren't they just gorgeous? The plants can reach up to 12 inches tall. Even though tarda means "late," the cheerful, star-shaped flowers bloom early in the season. Go figure.

Tulips are grown from bulbs and these ones are hardy down to USDA zone 3. The Spokane area is in zone 5 although the USDA recently revised its map and has declared we're in zone 6. I hate to say this, but I live in an outlying area and there's no way it's in zone 6!

Since tulip bulbs need to be planted in the fall, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until later in the growing season to order them. I would try mail-order businesses like Dutch Gardens, High Country Gardens and Brent and Becky's Bulbs. You might also check our local Northwest Seed & Pet stores since they usually have a nice selection of tulips and other bulbs each fall.