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Purple-Black Tulips (Paul Scherer)

Tulips are common spring garden flowers in the UK, and they come in a huge array of colours and shapes. There are a few dark varieties, and one of the very darkest is the award-winning purple-black Triumph tulip: 'Paul Scherer'.

I planted some tulips bulbs in late October last year, at the same time and potted in the same conditions as the Purple-Black Hyacinths (Midnight Mystic®) I have written about previously. When I brought the hyacinths out of the garage in February, I got the pots of tulips out too.

I had three Single Late tulip varieties ('Queen of the Night', 'Cafe Noir' and 'Black Parrot') and a single Triumph tulip variety ('Paul Scherer'). The last two are winners of the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit, and all four types are known to be amongst the darkest on the market, so I thought I'd try them all. 'Queen of the Night' is the variety I've seen sold most places. I bought all my tulip bulbs from

Triumph tulips tend to bloom around mid April, with the Single Late tulips following in late April or early May. As of today, the 'Paul Scherer' tulips flowered about a week-and-a-half ago, and are still going strong. The 'Queen of the Night' tulips flowered within the past few days, the 'Cafe Noir' and 'Black Parrot' ones are just starting to open enough to see their colours.

I've decided to make the 'Paul Scherer' variety the focus of this article. Those tulips are quite obviously a darker shade of purple-black than the others in natural daylight. I would happily incorporate all of the varieties into a dark garden, but it's the standout in my experiment. All the photos taken show the 'Paul Scherer' tulips; one shows 'Paul Scherer' tulips in the foreground with 'Queen of the Night' tulips behind for comparison, and another shows those two varieties side by side in vases. As with the hyacinths I grew, the tulips' perceived colour depends somewhat on the intensity of the light they're seen in.