The first tulips to bloom this year bloomed in one of the unprotected cold frames. Their congeners in the open garden are only now coming into bloom.
First above is one of the many forms of Tulipa humilis. These do well here if given a dry summer. There are five or six readily available cultivars of this species, and even more are available if you search around a bit. There is a raised bed in the garden where a collection of these tulips grows: year after year they bloom freely and make a happy beginning to the tulip season.
Tulipa kaufmanniana is even earlier in the open garden. This year I'm trying a new cultivar named 'Ice Stick'. It's blooming today in the garden. If you know Tulipa kaufmanniana itself or the so-called kaufmanniana tulips (most of which garden cultivars are hybrids with Tulipa greigii), you know that they are characterized by very low growth: the blooms appear just above the foliage. But 'Ice Stick' has a typical kaufmanniana flower on a tall stem. I'm still getting used to it, and for now it's nickname is "the giraffe tulip"..