March 27, 2008


Today was a beautiful early spring day with bright sun and a temperature of around 5°c. That first really nice spring day that you get always brings with it a keen sense of anticipation for me. A dear friend of mine has been trying to convince me of the joys of anticipation lately. I must confess to being more of an instant gratification kind of guy, but I am slowly learning that there is a certain pleasure in the anticipation of a thing. Today’s nice weather has me anticipating spring flowers and I simply could not restrain myself any longer, and that is the inspiration for today’s photograph.

It is about six weeks too early for these tulips to bloom here. I took this photograph last year in the middle of May. Tulips came from Turkey and were introduced to Europe in the last of the 16th century. By the early 17th century tulips were all the rage and by 1636 tulip mania had swept the Netherlands. Tulip bulbs were worth much more than their weight in gold. In the city of Haarlem a red and white striped tulip bulb named Semper Augustus was sold for a record 6,000 florins. For a single bulb! To put that in some perspective, the average yearly income at the time was 150 florins, making that tulip bulb worth 40 years salary. Just think that today you can buy a dozen of these bulbs for a few dollars at your local garden centre.

The other story about tulips that sticks in my mind came about during the Second World War. In war ravaged Europe foodstuffs were in tremendously short supply and there are stories of people eating tulip bulbs for food, this being the only thing around that was edible. What a change in the value of these beautiful flower bulbs.

Tulips have had a fascinating history which you might enjoy reading about. A good book on the subject is Tulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused by Mike Dash.


theysaywordscanbleed said...

gorgeous tulips!

Poulsbo florist

Antipodeesse said...

I regret not having planted any tulips last autumn. I used to have pink and purple ones all mixed in together. Splendid!

Is my French flag showing up on your map yet?

Ms Mac said...

I love tulips. I love to buy fresh cut red ones for the house but my favourite tulips in the village gardens are a beautiful deep and regal purple colour. You have inspired me to snap a few pictures of them when I see them in bloom!