Red Riding Hood Native Tulips

A cluster of Red Riding Hood native tulips in rocky garden.

Last but definitely not least in this Native, Wildflower, Botanical and Species Tulips series are Red Riding Hood tulips. With their big scarlet blooms, they too liven up the gardens in spring!

To recap we’ve seen Persian Pearl wildflower tulips, dainty, miniature Lady Janes, yellow Candlesticks, and red Species tulips. Unlike the whimsical, tentacle-like foliage of the Candlestick and red Species tulips, Red Riding Hood’s leaves are quite different. With their unusual green and purple variegated broad leaves, they stand out from the others!

A Swirling Cluster of Leaves and Flowers

Red Riding Hood tulips wrapped in unique foliage.
Unique foliage swirls around the Red Riding Hood blooms.

In early spring the first tell-tale signs of these Red Riding Hood tulips is their unusual leaves. They begin to emerge in swirling clusters. In the rocky gardens, my first time seeing them had me questioning what they were?

They look more like conventional tulips with the broad leaf shape. But it’s the variegated green and purple leaves that stands apart.

Sometimes you will see the leaves have been nibbled on before the buds start showing. It’s likely from rabbits. Thankfully their nibbles are not enough to prevent the tulips from blooming. Once they get going, it’s full speed ahead!

I love to mention the contrast of colors and textures with flowers and foliage and these have it in abundance.

As you can see in the photo to above, it really does look like a swirling cluster of red flowers and unusual leaves. Even though they are stationary in the rocky gardens they call home, the shapes imply a type of movement. Ok perhaps that’s my imagination – but I’m going with it.

Big Scarlet Flower Petals

Red Riding Hood native tulips.
Big scarlet tulip flower blooms.

Like the red Species tulips, these brighten a spring garden with dramatic scarlet blooms. The 4″ wide flowers are spectacular! It seems so odd that these Native tulips can produce such large flowers given the rocky gardens..

It’s also worth mentioning that like the other Wildflower and Botanical tulips, these too multiply naturally. So you will see expanding drifts and clusters throughout select areas of the gardens.

They are hardy and happy and it’s a gift to see and photograph them.

There are actually countless other tulips that pop up n the gardens in spring. But the ones featured in this series are the attention getters – IMHO.

Irresistible to Bees

Bee covered with yellow pollen in red tulip.
This bee almost looks like part of the tulip it’s so covered in yellow pollen!

Bees really go gangbusters for these tulips. As an early season source of pollen, i’d say they’re irresistible. The bright yellow anther (I believe that’s what it’s called) kicks out some serious pollen. I know cuz my noise got itchy while photographing theses! In the photo above the bee is so covered in yellow pollen that it’s almost hard to distinguish him from the flower. Even the bee’s little yellow pollen baskets on its legs are bulging.

Why a Xeriscape Garden Makes Sense

Native tulips with green and purple variegated leaves.
Red Riding Hood tulips at home among the rocks.

If I can impart anything with this tulip series, it’s while commercially hybridized tulips are beautiful, these colorful, small wonders rival them. And given their origins, require much less maintenance and or water!

As I spend more and more time photo-documenting flowers in xeriscape gardens – especially in the spring, I’ve come to appreciate the many varieties that thrive there. They are perfectly at home and well-suited among the rocks, mulch and sandy soils. And truth be told, I love the randomness of xeriscape gardens. How the different varieties expand and drift naturally – not just the tulips!

Furthermore, from an environmental standpoint, with climate change and droughts a reality, you realize how unnecessary and what a water-hog a big rolling lawn is!

If you’re curious and or interested in starting or converting to a xeriscape garden, EcoWatch has a wonderful article to get you informed 🙂

EcoWatch – Xeriscaping: Everything You Need to Know
From Article:
Xeriscaping refers to landscaping an area in a way that requires little to no irrigation. It’s common in drought-prone areas, but xeriscaping is a water-wise way to garden just about anywhere.

The term “xeriscaping” was first coined in 1981 by the Denver Water Department. The term combines “scape” or “landscape” with the Greek prefix “xero,” meaning dry. Many people may think of xeriscaping for desert areas of the southwest, but this form of landscaping is beneficial for any climate. The key is making the most of native plants and working with the natural climate of a region, so you spend less money and resources trying to water your lawn and garden.

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