Posts Tagged ‘Tulip mania’


Gardening books will tell you that tulip hybrids are not a good long-term investment for your garden dollars. You may set their bulbs lovingly in the soil in the autumn and enjoy a beautiful display in the spring, but often that is the beginning and end of the tulip show. In the following year you may or may not get a repeat, and before long, the bulbs will be just a garden memory. Daffodils are made of sterner stuff. An investment in daffodils can be expected to pay dividends year after year, as these sturdy, brilliant wonders robustly increase in number, and unlike tulips, which make quite a tasty snack for a squirrel, daffodil bulbs are poisonous and are left alone by marauders. I do love daffodils and I have a number of different varieties in the garden. You can also grow species tulips, which are more persistent than the hybrid tulips. Still, those hybrids are hard to resist. I try to plant at least a few each year so that I may enjoy their colours, some vibrant, some gentle, on dull spring days…and sunny days too.


Tulips have a fascinating history. The tulip was introduced to Europe in the mid-16th century from Turkey and by the 1630s, an explosion of interest in the bulbs led to speculation and skyrocketing prices. As noted at Wikipedia, At the peak of tulip mania, in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble (or economic bubble). The craze became known as Tulipomania or Tulip Mania. There are a number of books that outline the full history of the bulb. Michael Pollan gives a good summary in The Botany of Desire, which is reviewed here. A great fictional account of Tulipomania is offered by Alexandre Dumas in The Black Tulip. Worth checking out.


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