Tulip bulbs just do not thrive in my garden.  However, I can enjoy similar blooms in spring  thanks to  the Liriodendron trees, which are actually related to the magnolias. Their cup shaped flowers have led to the common name of Tulip Tree.

Liriodendrons  are notoriously slow to flower, but mine have started. I planted two about 15 years ago. The variegated one I’m pictured digging a hole for replaced a giant pine tree, which gave unwanted shade to the garden. You can see the stacks of pine wood on the left. One thing to remember is that liriodendrons don’t like dry soil. I guess that’s why they do so well in the  rainy Blue Mountains, where I live.

Planting a variegated tulip tree.

Looking a little like farmer Brown  with my spade-  2004

Green tulip bloom

Green ‘bulb’ tulip. Definitely similar.

Here is that same tree, photographed in a Mountain mist last year. Its about  7 metres tall now.

Tulip tree in the mist at Blackheath NSW

Fully grown.

In spring the Satin Bowerbirds sit snacking on the new leaves. I used to think they would strip the trees, but remarkably  they never cause any discernable damage. And as the weeks go by the beautiful  buds swell on the ends on the upper branches. The wattle birds start to visit. Note the variegated leaves.

Wattle birds visiting a tulip tree flower.

Anticipating nectar and checking the progress of the buds.

Its not until November that the flowers are in full bloom. Worth waiting for though

Tulip tree bloom

Tulip tree bloom.

The canopy provides great shade in mid summer, for smaller plants……. and birds.

Currawong in the tulip tree canopy.

Cooling off.

It is in autumn that the tulip trees’ foliage really puts on a show. The non variegated one is more spectacular I think. It has huge leaves, which turn as golden as butter.

Tulip tree leaf in autumn.

You could wrap a gift in this leaf.

Even the back of the leaf is lovely, especially when  covered in diamonds of dew .

Tulip tree leaf.

Golden tulip tree colouring behind the studio at Blackheath.

Autumn colour, including a tulip tree, behind our studio.

Tulip tree

Afternoon light

The large leaves transform paths and form bright carpets.

Wooden steps tulip tree leaves

Golden tulip tree path.

Buttery tulip tree leaves

A last flutter.

The spirit of autumn

Autumn fascinator for Edna.

Tulip tree bloom, leaf and seed.

Flower, leaf and seed

Crimson rosella and tulip tree seed.

A delicious breakfast

Cocky munching tulip tree seeds


Eventually there is a strong wind and remaining leaves disappear in a flurry. Winter is nigh.

Cockatoo with crest raised

Watching the last of the leaves vanish.

I just love these trees. They provide shade, shelter, nectar and seeds for the birds, plus untold pleasure to me.


  1. I have only ever seen one tulip tree – in the city where I live. They do grow very tall and it’s difficult to find the tulips way up there. I love your pictures.

    • Pauline

      Yes, and also hard to see because they ae green. Thanks for your nice comment.

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