Tulipomania

During our weekend walks, Cookie and I couldn’t help but mourn the end of tulip season. Their colorful lollipop tops are gone, save for a few beat-up looking stragglers that are fighting a losing battle against the brutal Oklahoma winds.

Two weeks ago, tulips were in full bloom on my street:

pink tulips at sunset

Sadly, only one red tulip managed to bloom on my property under our neglectful conditions. Our lone ranger is among the lost. Poor guy, hope he comes around again next year.

Some spectacular photos of Dutch tulip fields have circulated through the inboxes at my office, and I just have to share these from the Daily Mail:

Dutch tulip field
Dutch tulip field 2
Dutch tulip field 3

Aren’t the fields magnificent? The tulip fields look like modern rugs, with bold color blocks in warm hues, like Paul Smith’s Stripe rug from The Rug Company:

Paul Smith striped rug
botanical print of semper augustus tulip

A Semper Augustus tulip, the most prized tulip for its unique candy-cane like stripes.

As it turns out, tulips provide quite an interesting history lesson in behavioral economics. In the early 1600s, the Netherlands’ nouveau riche went crazy for tulips, coining the term “tulipomania” or “tulipmania”. The Dutch grew flower gardens in a showy display of wealth, and tulips were truly the gem of the garden. At the height of tulipomania, a single tulip bulb could fetch as much as a modern-day 5th Avenue townhouse. Then in February of 1637, the tulip market crashed, the overvalued tulips sold at a loss, and many a man were left in financial ruins in the midst of their pretty flower gardens.

There you have it: more than you’ve ever wanted to know about tulips!

P.S.- In case you want to learn more, check out Michael Pollen’s book-turned-documentary called The Botany of Desire (side note: it’s available for instant streaming on Netflix!). The film devotes about thirty minutes to the subject and examines tulip biology and history. I highly recommend it.

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