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Thoughts & Musings by Sandra Visnapuu

April Tulips Poised to Impress

 Abbey House Gardens

Abbey House Gardens

For most, April is the month when the will and labor given to demanding tulips can be realized; March they show and May they go!

The competition is fierce with so many varieties of Spring bulbs vying for their place in the sun, but the tulip is poised to steal the show. They come in all sizes and colors. They can be smooth or ruffled. Some will bloom early and others late. They are able to stand alone, or dazzle you in their abundance, and never will they bore.

April Travels; first to the Wiltshire countryside in England. And then directly onto Amsterdam, to crisscross the bulb fields of southern Holland.

Since my time is limited, and I am visiting the country, I have chosen a refined country house classic - the charmed Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa. It will be hard to venture out from such luxury, but I can only imagine how wonderful it will be to return from visiting gardens to a strong cup of tea or cold glass of champagne in the library. 

My favorite place to visit includes: Hidcote Manor, a jewel in the National Trust properties, and once owned by the American Lawrence Johnston. The other is Abbey House Garden, which is privately owned.

 Hidcote Manor - Image Credit: Stephen Robson 

Hidcote Manor - Image Credit: Stephen Robson 

Hidcote Manor was one of the first gardens, which took a large property and divided its garden, as if it were rooms in a house. Each section opens a door to another enchanted garden.

However, the level playing ground closest to the house at Abbey House Garden prevails my affection. The exquisite use of its topiary and the parterres of Boxwood filled with the willowing grace of the tulips in all their brilliance of color are deliciously scandalous. The over planting of bulbs in and amongst the fabulous rose beds is unique. They will be glorious in bloom, and then allowed to fade under cover from emerging roses.

 Ariel View: Abbey House Gardens

Ariel View: Abbey House Gardens

From England to Amsterdam, as if jettisoned onto another planet. Flying over Amsterdam and seeing fields of flowering bulbs, is truly magical. The tulip is originally from Turkey but it is the Netherlands (Holland) that claimed it and now it is internationally celebrated. I plan to buy bundles of tulips from the flower stalls of Amsterdam and fill up my room at the Amstel Hotel. A classic building, oozing with history sitting proudly on the Amstel River.

The Keukenhof Garden is a must, but I am equally keen to visit Hortus Bulborum, north of Amsterdam in Limmen and steeped in history. Run entirely by volunteers - the 2,600 plus varieties of tulip include rare older varieties, heirloom bulbs, or bulbs no longer being grown by commercial growers and are in danger of becoming extinct.

During my travels I will be working with the Dutch photographer Thijs Wolzah. I also want to share the beauty of the tulips at ‘Filoli’ San Francisco and some I planted in New Canaan, Connecticut. But that will have to wait until next time..