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Van Eijk


What color is this tulip?

That’s what I asked an artist friend came to visit while this tulip was in bloom.  After she had spent some pensive moments contemplating it, I said, unable to keep quiet, “To me, it looks like a sort of rosy coral.” She allowed as how she thought that was a pretty good description. It’s an unusual color.

Brent and Becky’s, my source for Van Eijk, gives it a very poetic color description  “a wonderful combination of beetroot purple and turkey red with a primrose base.” Their picture makes a good case for this claim, too, but it sure wasn’t the color my Van Eijks came out.

And then imagine my surprise when, researching this artilce, I found that Tulipworld claims that Van Eijk is pale pink. My tulips weren’t anywhere near pale; the tulips on the Tulipworld site have the deep coral-rose of my van Eijks only on their edges – but the picture looks as if it is of just-opening tulips, whose colors are often different from the mature versions.


You can see the pale petal middles as this Van Eijk opens.

Different soils can definitely alter the color of a tulip. I can see that that might solve the problem with the difference between my Van Eijks and Brent and Becky’s, but I think the Tulipworld picture is just strange. I could be wrong. It’s happened before.


A little earlier than the previous picture – color still coming in.

Whatever its color, Van Eijk is certainly remarkable. It was probably the most-commented-on tulip in my garden this spring. Not that I have busloads of tourists coming in, but I do have a lot of tulips. This color got attention.

I think Van Eijk must be a fairly new tulip, because there’s so little about it in the literature. I haven’t been able to get a date on it, though. (Does anybody have a good source for this? Breeding information on modern tulips?)

What I can tell you about this tulip is how it grows. Van Eijk (pronounce it the second part of the name like “Ike” and you’ll be close) is a mid-spring bloomer. It’s a Darwin hybrid: a cross between an early Fosteriana (like Exotic Emperor and Sweetheart) and tulips from the strong but mysterious Darwin group. This spring was a little hard on all my tulips, so the fact that Van Eijk lasted only about two weeks shouldn’t put you off.  The flowers were very stable and took a long time to look crepey or drop petals.

All sources that sell it cite the incredible robust hardiness of this tulip – and indeed, it stood straight and tall (about 2 feet or 2/3 of a meter) and kept its blooms in fine fettle in weather from snow to the eighties (27 degrees and up C). (I told you this spring was hard on tulips. They didn’t care for the heat.) The other few gardener reviews I could find on Van Eijk rated it highly for vigor and longlasting flowers.

Brent and Becky’s counts it as “the longest term” perennial group of tulips. “Perennial” tulips, it turns out, are only kind of semi-perennial: they get called that if they come back for a few years or so. Van Eijk is e also listed as being suited from zones 3 to 9, an unusually high zone for tulips, which usually need a more serious freeze than zone 9 gets (even some parts of zone 8 can have problems with tulips).

I trust Brent and Becky because they raise and breed bulbs, and make frequent visits to growers in the Netherlands where they can see breeders’ work in the field. They’re not just pulling numbers out of a hat. So all you zone 9 folks who’ve longed for the big flashy tulips that usually won’t grow in your area – here’s your chance.

There’s only one question left: what color is this tulip?


(If you’re interested in checking out even more tulips, try “The Bees Knees of Tulips” –  – Bruce Zimmerman’s picks for most fragrant, best double, and a few other categories.)

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Cyd May 11, 2009, 5:35 pm

    I think I have this tulip. It only bloomed once and it is my all time favorite. I called it lipstick and popsicle color because I could not describe it. It was the star of my bed. I will be doing a lot of digging in a month or so. Your picture of the dew covered tulip is awesome.

  • Pomona Belvedere May 11, 2009, 6:00 pm

    Cyd, I’m glad you liked the picture, thanks. I think lipstick and especially popsicle color is quite a good descriptor!

  • Steve May 11, 2009, 6:11 pm

    Well, allow me to opine on the color of that tulip. I am calling Red.

    There, I am done. Anything else? 😉

  • catmint May 12, 2009, 2:23 am

    I call it pink – it makes me feel quite moved and weak and soppy, like perfect roses or romantic operas do sometimes..

  • tina May 12, 2009, 5:46 am

    I think you must be right on it being new. I don’t find it listed in the glossary of my little book. I am learning so much about tulips from you!

  • Pomona Belvedere May 13, 2009, 9:52 am

    Steve, you’re a decisive and incisive man of few words. Catmint, you make a poetic case for pink. In fact, you’re both so convincing, I think you’re both right.

    Which is no help.

    Tina, I appreciate your sharing your tulip knowledge, too!

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