My history of designing with tulips has been pretty rocky, with as many failures as successes. This streamside scene from 2004 looks nice with pink lily-type tulips actually blooming at the same time as the multiple-blooming variety 'Georgette.' Unfortunately, the Georgettes then morphed into a gaudy orange-and-yellow striped look that clashed big-time with the pink. So even the successes are pretty fleeting.
What I do in this border is to show off a new combination of tulips every year, which I then pluck from the ground as soon as they finish blooming. Wasteful, you say? Maybe, but A, the foliage is too ugly for such a prominent place; and B, they don't return reliably the next year, which makes it impossible to create a new design in that area. So this border gets a new crop every year, which I sometimes then move to a less conspicuous place where they can mix and match and run riot for all I care. Cost-wise, the 30 to 50 tulips can be had for $20-40, which ain't bad for a gorgeous show that lasts for weeks.
This year I used a group of 4 tulips that I thought all bloomed together and three of them actually did - two multi-flowering types and a single late - but the Darwin 'Pink Impression' had already faded. The overall effect - viewed by the 700 people touring through my garden the first weekend of May - was pretty awful. Too damn busy.
Now, because I learn from all my gardening mistakes - I wish - I've pared the design down even farther and next spring it's going to look PERFECT. I chose three types of single lates, timed to bloom after the daffodils are gone: the purple 'Cum Laude,' pink 'Esther,' and, not shown here, a pale yellow 'Francoise.' Boy, next spring is going to be fabulous.