My vision of ‘Apricot Beauty’ and ‘Dreaming Maid’ was based on memory. And, as so often, memory was faulty.
I still see Dreaming Maid and Apricot Beauty as totally gorgeous. But I had imagined them in a harmony that was never meant to be.
The last time I grew Dreaming Maid (I know cultivar names are properly in single quotes, but I think they look stupid sprinkled densely through a post, as if the entire top of a pepper shaker had come off and dumped in more spice than was necessary or desirable) – the last time I grew Dreaming Maid, I hadn’t yet started photographing my plants. I did remember, though, that when someone gave me a branch of lilac flowers, the two harmonized perfectly, shades of the same soft bluish lavender-purple.
I combined the memory of that color with the beautiful peach-and-pink shades of Apricot Beauty (sparked with its occasional flecks of green and rose), and came up with a beautiful dream of tulips, a river with lavender and peach currents.
But while they look fine together – it would be hard to find two pastel tulips that didn’t – their colors don’t set each other off.
Part of this is due to the changing nature of Dreaming Maid, which starts out rosy-purple.
It isn’t until the very end, when it’s getting crepey, that it evolves into something more like the hazy lavender of my memory. It could be that there’s a soil difference makes a difference in its colors, too. My last batch of Dreaming Maid was planted in the ground; these are in containers. I can’t do the lilac test, because this year, these tulips are way ahead of lilac blooms; lilacs are just leafing out).
Apricot Beauty also changes, although the way it changes seems to vary with the seasons. Sometimes it’s pinker, but that can happen either at the start of its life
or towards the very end. Sometimes it’s a yellower orange, but that can happen either at the end of its life
or the very beginning. The only thing it does consistently is to get paler as it ages.
While Apricot Beauty isn’t actively bad with Dreaming Maid, the two aren’t complementary, to my eyes.
I’m sure this has something to do with the color wheel; if there are any artist readers who can explain this better, I’d appreciate it. When I put my much yellower-orange ‘Apricot Emperor’ tulip next to the gently aging Dreaming Maid, the two set each other off much better than the combination I’d planned.
But Apricot Emperor and Dreaming Maid is not a combination I can expect to see again in my lifetime, since Apricot Emperor is an early Fosteriana tulip. This year, perhaps because of our weird dry warm winter through December and January, the garden bulbs have come out higgledy-piggledy, in any order, crocuses and hyacinths blooming with early and even mid-season tulips, while the Fosterianas, generally next after daffodils, have come out with the usually-much-later single early tulips.
I’m hoping my late orange-and-purple tulip combination, ‘Orange Favorite’ and ‘Queen of the Night’ (with a few ‘Paul Scherer’ thrown in (see what I mean about all those single quotes?)) will turn out better.
As for now? Sometimes the material world surprises us with more than we had expected; other times it disappoints us of our glowing visions. I had the beautiful dream, and now I have beautiful (though mismatched) tulips.