Photo April 27, Don Mills, in my rockery. sunny
leaves like a crocus. red flower, very short stem. One flower per stem. Flower about 2.5 in across. It came up for the first time this year, beside tulips and sedum cover.
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.
Your plant appears to be Tulipa humilis ‘Tete-a-Tete’. This is one of many species tulips, which tend to be much smaller in stature than the tall, showy hybrids that often first come to mind when we think of tulips. Species tulips naturalize well in areas with full sun and very well-drained soil. As such, this little fellow is probably thriving in your rockery.
Because Tulipa humilis requires about six years to flower when grown from seed, this particular plant has likely been growing in your yard for quite some time while escaping your notice due to its narrow, crocus-like leaves. Tulip seeds are easily dispersed by wind, so the source of this plant may be nearby. With a keen eye open as you move about your neighbourhood, you may be able to do some detective work!