I honestly didn’t plan the look of the garden now. I would never have been so bold or single-minded, or trusted to the impact of a single flower. It is a triumph of the Triumphator. Who named this simple white lily-flowered tulip I don’t know. Perhaps he or she had the same experience. The long files of bulbs I planted three or four years ago down the centre path of the garden have the stage to themselves, shining white, ice-cool on a background of tender greens, sharp green, and the bottle-bank brown/green of box hedges.
Why are there no other colours? Two weeks of constant rain seem to have left most plants perplexed. The Crown Imperials have finished; one or two tentative flowers sprinkle little pink geraniums and a burgeoning perennial honesty. The apple trees are in blossom, but the colour seems washed from their petals: there is no wattage in any colour except green – and the bright lamps of White Triumphator, its pointed petals upright despite the downpours.
If it is true, as Christopher Lloyd feared, that this marvellous bulb is growing degenerate, and that its stock is weakening, it would be a terrible shame. It is seventy years old, I learn – though I still don’t know who coined its strange name. But if this is weakness; three years in the ground and still standing straight after two weeks of rain; triumphator, meaning hero of a Roman ‘triumph’, is right.