Springtime Fragrance = Tulips Too!

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'.
I found an ideal place for tulips up close to the house in a raised bed partially sheltered by deep eaves that prevent rain from dousing the soil nearest the house. Since tulips like to be left alone in the summer, they seem to be happy here where I haven't planted much for summer color. 
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.


  1. I have Princess Irene in my garden for the first time this year and love the burnt orange colour - they are in a container at the moment but I will be planting them out in the borders in the hope that they return next year.

  2. Jean, I'm glad we introduced you to these fragrant tulips, and thanks for sharing the good news with your readers! 'Prinses Irene' and 'Generaal de Wet' are two of the all-time most fragrant tulips -- surpassed only by the very rare 'Prince of Austria'. For a complete list of all the fragrant heirloom tulips we offer, see www.oldhousegardens.com/search_display.aspx?Text=fragrant+tulips. And happy spring! -- Scott, Old House Gardens