Hi Michael and readers,

Following, as we all do, many English and European designers and gardeners on Instagram, I've been enjoying all of their recent spring photos of tulips emerging from within their garden borders. These images have made me ask how many tulips are actually necessary to have an impact in spring in a predominately summer-focused perennial border? I have a long perennial border with some all-year structure (miscanthus trans,, westringia, euphorbia, etc), but the border's star performance is aimed at mid/late-summer (agastache, echinops, penstemon, calamagrostis, sedum, echinacea), so I feel I need some spring bulbs to extend my seasons of interest, I'm curious as to whether I can achieve a good early/mid-spring effect with only sparse planting of tulips (combined with, say, purple alliums), which will provide some sort of show prior to the summer perennials take centre stage? Or do you need, as most websites advocate, hundreds and hundreds of tulips to have any meaningful impact in a border? Cassian Schmidt's recent posts state that he replants 800 tulips annually, which, for me, is not really an expense that I can justify. Having looked closely at the photo of Michael sitting in his beautiful garden on the home page of this website, it gives me hope that sparse planting of select tulips can still have a meaningful impact in a spring border. I'd appreciate hearing your experiences and insights.

Many thanks, Oliver (Hobart, Tasmania)