Peony Tulip

'Carnaval de Nice'
Peony Tulip

"The tulip is a courtly quean,
Whom, therefore, I will shun."

by Thomas Hood


The correct spelling of this tulip cultivar is 'Carnaval de Nice,' but about half the time it is corrected to the English spelling "Carnival" in catalog listings. It is named in honor of the world-famed flower-floats at the Carnival of Nice.

In late March, the fat buds are green & ivory, in the exact shade of the leaves which are variegated green with ivory edging The second photo (below right) shows them toward the end of March when they are beautifully striped buds.

Peony TulipAt this stage they look exactly like certain Viridiflora tulips, such as 'China Town.' These buds will further fatten day by day, remaining green & white streaked.

But then as the buds mature they show red in the cracks, & at long last they burst open. As full flowers, the green streaking is no longer a feature.

What unfolds is a Double Peony Tulip, a large globe of many petals which are white with wide ragged raspberry-red streaks or "flames."

They really do look rather like old classic peony flowers when fully opened at its height of bloom.

These extravagant blooms begin about the end of the first week in April & last into May. They rise on slender stems to around twenty inches of height, or shorter.

'Carnaval de Nice' was introduced to European gardening in 1953, supplanting similar cultivars a century older which were faulted for weak stems. Though today strengthened, peony tulips are still at risk of being beaten down by harsh weather.

Ours are protected by small trees & a large rose bush that surround our little "tulip field," near enough the house that a bit of an overhanging eave keeps them from becoming too easily beaten down by the rain.


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