by Sue Gray
Tulipa sprengeri, or Sprenger’s tulip, is a wild tulip from Turkey and is the latest to flower, usually in late May and June. Introduced to Europe by the German gardener Mühlendorff in 1892, it is named after Carl Sprenger, who published a description of the plant, although the first scientific description was produced by J. Gilbert Baker in 1894 in The Gardener’s Chronicle. So many were lifted and spread throughout Europe that it was thought to be extinct in the wild but, as it is grown in many botanic gardens, the Atatürk Arboretum in Istanbul has initiated a reintroduction project in co-operation with Kew Gardens.
They are elegant plants around 30cms in height with bright red flowers, the outer petals being flushed with yellow. Although they are said to require well drained soil they do well in my garden in a reasonably moist area – see image. I cannot remember how long it is since I first planted a very small quantity of bulbs, but they have self-seeded prolifically. Each year I attempt to lift some and pot them up, but it is not easy to do as the bulbs go very deep and often I am just left holding a flower stem that has detached itself from the bulb.
Image courtesy of Sue Gray