Pink and white tulips, variety unknown.

Surprise Tulips, Expected Epimediums, Bountiful Bergenias, and Hellebore Finale

Out in the garden after a nice spring rain, I found a mixture of small delights.

First, a group of tulips I have no memory of planting. I doubt if I would have picked this variety. The petals are white with pink edges. They look as though most of the colour has been bleached or faded away. Did they come from self-planted seeds? Tulips do produce seeds, but I don’t think I ever let mine do that. Or maybe stray bulblets? But in that case, where are the originals? Anyway, there they are, and quite picturesque too. I’m certainly not going to remove them. More about these tulips at the end of the post!

These bergenias grow really close to the trunks of those two big Norway maples I complain about all the time. For some reason, they’re blooming really well this year.

Bergenias in bloom pale pink

Epimedium x perralchicum “Frohnleiten” is one of the most dependable plants in the garden. I cut the old foliage down a few weeks ago, and now it’s in full bloom with fresh, bronze-tinted foliage emerging. The leaves will expand and grow green and leathery as the season progresses.

Yellow blooms and new foliage of Epimedium x perralchicum "Frohnleiten"

At risk of being boring, I’ll just mention that hellebore flowers are almost past their best, with seed structures expanding and colours morphing into the subfusc. (Actually, I added this bit about the hellebores just so I could use that word. While normally it’s applied to British academic dress, garden writer Ann Lovejoy uses it to describe plant colours. So I can do that too.)

Mature dark pink-purple hellebore flowers
Hellebore flowers in the subfusc stage.

Finally, another look at one of the surprise tulip flowers. Close up this time.

Pink and white tulip, variety unkown, close up with raindrops
Mystery tulip with raindrops.

The really strange thing about these tulips is how they look just one day later.

Dark pink tulips, formerly almost white
Same tulips, different colour. From white with pink edges to dark pink with white stripes!

Even after decades of gardening, plants can still surprise me.


  1. What a delightful surprise those tulips must have been. They are my favourite flower. And I love how they change colour as they mature. One surprise after another! Your garden is fabulous.

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  2. Audrey, isn’t it amazing what wonders the garden gives us! Your mystery tulips are delightful and awe-inspiring how they changed colour overnight! Yeah … I love hellebores and you’ve taught me a new word for today – subfusc… it’s brilliant and one I’ll try to ‘slip’ into my writing! Enjoy the beauty in your garden and you can never bore us with any of the plants! 😀😀

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  3. Honest to goodness, i saw your post in my inbox and thought, “What new vocabulary word will I learn from Audrey today?” You didn’t disappoint with “subfusc.”:-)

    Wow, that one photo with the raindrops on the mystery tulips . . . gorgeous!

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    1. You know, up until I wrote this post, I’d seen that word used only to describe flower colours by Ann Lovejoy. I thought it meant ‘dark and murky.’ So it was a surprise to look it up and get all sorts of results about what to wear under the academic gown at Oxford University!


  4. Once again you have named a mystery flower for me – Bergenias. When my uncle died and left everything to charity we rushed around digging up my aunt’s plants before the house went on sale! Bergenias are flourishing in our front garden after ten years.

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    1. It’s good to hear that your aunt’s bergenias ended up in a good place, Janet. I think they are (or were once) also called Megaseas. Our local deer find them delicious, unfortunately, especially the flowers. The ones in the front garden were eaten even though covered with plastic netting. Deer don’t have access to the back garden, so at least plants back there can flourish.


  5. The only thing better than a tulip is a surprise tulip! In the past, I had some that got moved from one spot to another, probably by squirrels or chipmunks. Maybe that’s what happened in your case? You might have tulip bulbs from someone else’s garden:)

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    1. You may be right, Becky! There is a whole gang of squirrels that visit the area near the bird feeder, which is also close to where those tulips popped up. A lot goes on in our gardens that we have no clue about.

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  6. Tulips! We’ve finally managed to persuade some to grow in our garden and they wave to Sheila quite regularly.
    Things pop up unannounced in our spread quite regularly. You never know when or where.

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  7. Love your tulips, Audrey! I tried to grow them one time, but nothing every came up – I’d actually planted about 6 different types of bulbs, and nothing. After seeing so many pretty tulips this spring, I’m tempted to give it another try.

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  8. Last fall my husband planted some tulips in our elderly neighbor’s yard since she had just lost her husband and he loved flowers. She was quite surprised when they came up. So you never know…:) But your tulips are beautiful as well as all of your flowers. Thank you for sharing.

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