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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.