Double Early or Peony Tulip
"But hark ye, Hatteraick -- what will all the tulips,
& flower-gardens, & pleasure-houses
in the Netherlands do for you, if you are
hanged here in Scotland?"
from Guy Mannering;
or, The Astrologer (1815)
by Sir Walter Scott
'Monsella' is a Double Early Tulip, also called a Peony Tulip. This lightly scented tulip is a sport of an earlier cultivar, the big yellow 'Monte Carlo.' It blooms around the end of March & long into April.
If one combined all the double early tulips & double late tulips, the number of cultivars would not be lengthy compared to most other classes of tulips. But often these rarer peony-tulips are among the most dramatic flowers a garden can have.
To qualify as a double early tulip requires only that the blooms possess more than the usual six petals, & not all of them are as impressive as 'Monsella,' which definitely gives the impression of a big double peony.
In full sun the blooms will open to four or five inches width; in partial shade or in overcast weather it will form a compact feathery ball of petals.
The color is an almost blinding yield-sign yellow with a slender intense red stripe or flame down the down the center of each petal, the stripe becoming stronger as the bloom ages.
In many cases only half the frilly petals fully open, or the petals unfold at contrary angles, giving it an untidy look the very opposite of the perfect shape & formality of most tulips.
It is usually only a foot tall, making it a good companion for kaufmannianas or greigiis or Early Singles, though it does occasionally get taller, to sixteen inches. Each bulb can produce two or three stems for increasingly surprising impact.
They are planted in autumn at six to eight inches depth, as many as five bulbs in a one-foot grouping. They prefer full sun with well-draining soil, though they tolerate a degree of shade.
Long-lasting in bouquets as well as in the garden, 'Monsella' is usually sold pre-chilled, & is a good choice for indoor forcing.
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