Did you know some tulips have a fragrance? This I discovered a few years ago when I was perusing the Old House Gardens catalog. I ordered 'Prinses Irene' first. This variety might not be one of the oldest fragrant tulips, but it's one of my favorites. Introduced in 1949, its flower is subtle from a distance, but up close, it's like a Southwestern sunset. Its deep orange petals feature a bold purple freestyle streak at the center and edges that fade a bit to glowing peachy-gold.
|Inside a slightly differently-colored 'Prinses Irene'.|
|Tulip 'Generaal de Wet'|
I bought and planted two more varieties last fall: 'Generaal de Wet' and 'Orange Favorite'. In the single early category of tulips, 'Generaal de Wet' (introduced in 1904) also is of the orange persuasion. But orange isn't enough to describe the color of this tulip. It starts out pale - more of a peach than orange, but just as fragrant as 'Prinses Irene'. As I went in for a sniff I was rewarded by the sight of delicate striations of shades belonging to the peach family. It's as if a brush laden with coral, salmon and the palest apricot were drawn in an outward motion from the center of each petal to its edge.
The last variety, a late parrot tulip, will hopefully come up when the others have faded. It's rare to find flowers both beautiful and fragrant. Even half a dozen fragrant tulips planted close at hand (or nose) is well worth enjoying in April.