Two Eyes, Tulips, One Camera

In my last post, I riffed on variations of a single picture of tulips using “Virtual Paint“.  In this post, we’ll explore how many different varieties of tulips can be found in one special place.

And if that’s too boring, just enjoy all the bright colors.

Mention the word “tulips”, and the average person will think “flowers from Holland.”  A gift of spring, these colorful beauties put on a show around mid to late April or early May that’s a sure sign Mother Nature has awakened.

Click any picture for a larger version.

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For many, tulips can only be found in small patches here and there, courtesy of a neighbor’s garden or one’s own, or perhaps in a local park or business’s landscaping. Some of us are a little luckier, we have access to farms where tulips are cultivated. A month ago my two eyes found these tulips at such a farm – naturally I brought a camera.

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The site was the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, at a farm just outside of Woodburn, Oregon. A 45-minute drive from Portland, the real challenge is to pick a time to visit that 800 other people haven’t also picked.  We managed to find a weekday when the weather promised to hold off raining until the afternoon, and headed off to the fields.

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Tulips are cultivated from seed or bulbs, with bulbs being more typical for the home gardener. Planted in late summer or fall, the gardener has to wait 7 months to see if they planted it deep enough, if the soil had sufficient drainage, and if the bulbs really did match the color on the package.

Tulips are reasonably priced in current times at $1 or less per bulb, but in their early days in Holland their uniqueness and intense colors turned the buying and selling of tulips into a speculative tulip mania that at least for a few investors went to ridiculous heights.  From Wikipedia:

According to Mackay (a Scottish economist), the growing popularity of tulips in the early 17th century caught the attention of the entire nation; “the population, even to its lowest dregs, embarked in the tulip trade”.  By 1635, a sale of 40 bulbs for 100,000 florins (also known as Dutch guilders) was recorded. By way of comparison, a ton of butter cost around 100 florins, a skilled laborer might earn 150 florins a year, and “eight fat swine” cost 240 florins.

Current economists suggest the extent of the tulip mania may have been exaggerated by Mackay, but as a precursor to the dot com bubble it proved that greed and unrealistic expectations aren’t anything new.

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Historically cultivation of tulips appears to have begin in Persia (Iran) in the 10th century. There is some confusion of classification with other plants, so exactly what happened when and where for the next 500 years is a tad fuzzy.

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Whatever the history, for a few brief weeks in spring nature shows its colors at their most vivid, and we can all feel rich in its beauty without risk of speculation.

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31 thoughts on “Two Eyes, Tulips, One Camera

    1. They’re lovely, but somehow you’ve picked a favorite that doesn’t stick around very long, especially if you get a warm spring. Maybe that makes them even more special while they’re around.
      No, I didn’t know about the anniversary tulip – fitting colors.

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      1. Yes, they’re in your 8th photo down, the Canada-150 variety… if you use your imagination, they appear like the Canadian flag fluttering in the breeze — I was surprised to see them from your Oregon travels as I was under the impression they were only available in Canada this first year of their release. Possibly someone purchased them in Canada and carried them across last fall… heh heh
        Wonderful photos, thank you … 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to live in that area too. My boyfriend at the time grew up in Holland. He told me that when he was in high school, the fun thing to do at Tulip Time was to drive down the road next to the flower beds with the car door open. They called it “tulip wrecking”.

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  1. Thanks for the photos! I love tulips, but don’t have the best of luck when I plant them. They grow for a couple of years (blooming in Spring) but after that, I just get leaves and no flowers. I would love to go to a tulip festival sometimes and see hundreds of them all at once.
    Also, thanks for the history! I had also just thought “Dutch flowers.” I had no idea they were so coveted at one time, or were around in 10th century Persia!

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    1. I don’t know much about growing tulips, but I suspect you may need to dig them up and separate out the cloned baby bulbs to give them some growing room.
      I’d heard about the tulip mania before. It seems like there are lots of things that used to be soley in the purview of the rich or royal that are now more commonly available. It looks like tulips are one of those things.

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  2. Splendid photos, Dave! Like most I used to associate tulips with Holland, but then in Istanbul I found that tulips were really popular in the Ottoman Empire as well, up to the point that one last age of the empire ended up being called ‘the tulip time’… They had some wonderful flowers all along Besiktas Caddesi not long ago.
    Fabrizio

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    1. I think I may have read his “Three Musketeers” when I was a kid, but hadn’t heard of the “Black Tulip”, apart from the attempt to breed them. I suppose the Goth fans might be into them, but I’m partial to the orange ones.

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    1. With all those gorgeous colors around the photos had easy subjects. As for the history, I tend to fall back on that for locations when the muse isn’t musing. I suppose I could have attempted to wax poetic on the flowers, but then I’m not a poet. Like Mr. Miyagi said, “wax on, wax off.”

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