Goodbye Tulips

It’s nearly the end of the tulip season, and despite the abundance of other flowers following on, I always feel a little sad when the tulips finish for another year.I’ve written other posts about how they suggest spring to me, more than snowdrops and daffodils. With their wonderful abilty to drape themselves languidly or stand fully upright as if recognising their glory, they seem to hold the promise of so many good things to come.I love the myriad colours from rainbow bouquets to single hue.

Their history is fascinating too. It seems hard now to believe the tulip madness of the 17th century in Holland: Tulip mania was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for some bulbs of the recently introduced and fashionable tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637. Wikipedia 

When their price fell, people were runined – the bursting of that particular economic bubble!

This is the background to ‘Tulip Fever’ by Deborah Moggach, recently turned into a film (not very successfully, I gather). Set against the backdrop of the 17th-century Tulip Wars, a married noblewoman has an affair with an artist and switches identities with her maid to escape the wealthy merchant she married. She and her lover try to raise money together by investing what little they have in the high-stakes tulip market.

Some years ago, I went to the tulip parade in Spalding, Lincs, a magnificent array of floats with the most extravagant arrangements, all made with tulips. Sadly, this display took place for the last time in 2013. If you click on the link, you can see some examples of the displays:

The tulip parade might be gone but the wonderful tulip lives on – one of nature’s many marvels.



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  1. Derek Taylor says:

    Thanks for this, Lindsay. I’d never recognised before what a rich history the tulip has. My own – more limited – memory is of Alexandre Dumas’ “The Black Tulip” – not the book, but the TV adaptation which I still remember 63 years later.

  2. Derek Taylor says:

    Thanks for this, Lindsay. I’d not recognised before the rich significance of the tulip. My own – more limited – memory is of Alexandre Dumas’ “The Black Tulip” Not the book, I’m afraid, but the BBC TV adaptation which I loved, aged ten.

  3. Derek Taylor says:

    Ooops. It told me my first comment hadn’t been published. But note subtle giveaway difference between the two…

  4. Rosemarie Davies says:

    Taking out the old tulip bulbs at Coughton today. Hope they ‘slumber’ well, bursting to return next year. X

  5. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for your comments, Derek. Indeed, I can see the subtle differences between them! The history of the tulips is amazing. One thing that I didn’t put in this blog, but I have mentioned in previous posts is ‘they were first cultivated during the Ottoman Empire. Apparently, the tulip is indigenous to a vast area encompassing arid parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. The word tulip, which earlier appeared in English in forms such as tulipa or tulipant, entered the language by way of French tulipe and its obsolete form tulipan or by way of Modern Latin tulīpa, from Ottoman Turkish. During the time of the Ottoman Empire, they symbolised abundance and indulgence.’

  6. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Rosemarie. Sleep well, tulips. We need you next year!

  7. Maggie says:

    I am (slowly) getting there with tulips – especially thanks to your latest blog! An ardent flower lover, I confess I never quite took to what I thought were more like stiff and starchy pretend flowers than real ones.
    Your pictures of their´lanquidity´ and mutli coloured varieties are impressive. I am a new tulip fancier. Thank you Lindsay.

  8. Polly says:

    I love tulips too, Lindsay, especially the alpine varieties. My favourite at the mo is ‘Little Beauty,’ gorgeous colours and form.
    Interesting post, thank you x

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