Tulipmania 2010, Part 1

A few centuries ago — before the peak of the dot-coms and the housing market and, well, banks and investment companies — it was a flower that caused a giant investment craze and its subsequent crash.

Drawn by their intense color and beauty, wealthy 16th and 17th century Dutch and Germans paid increasingly extravagant prices for the Turkish exports. In 1634 a Dutch man paid roughly half his fortune for a single bulb, solely for the purpose of admiring it. The mania continued to increase. More and more people sold their houses and land to purchase tulips, until their money was fairly worthless, goods and services were priced beyond what people could afford, and people had to barter in the bulbs. Still, they threw themselves lavish parties, with beautiful tulips everywhere, until at last a tulip deal, for 10 Semper Augustus bulbs, went sour. On that first default, people started to panic. Prices dropped precipitously, and people found themselves in financial ruin.

This is the Semper Augustus bulb:

Luckily, today, in the U.S. in 2010, I can get beautiful tulip bulbs for under $1 apiece, refrigerate them (through our mild northern California winters), plant them, and have a deck full of lovely tulips in spring. All but the last of this year’s tulips are a memory. But, what a memory they were!


Pictured at the very top of this post and above, is the Parade tulip, which performed extremely well. The bulbs are huge, and the bright vermilion red flower sits atop a sturdy stem that rises to a great 22″-24″ height. They seemed to last a long time, too. I planted them to alternate with the Golden Apeldoorn tulips. Both are Darwin Hybrids that came up at the same time, in the middle of tulip season.

On sunny mid-afternoons, their petals would fly open in the sun.

Golden Apeldoorn

A beautiful companion to the Parade, the Golden Apeldoorn matched it in size, color and majesty. It has a wonderful rich yellow color, a beautiful shape and a sturdy 22″-24″ stem.

You can’t beat this bright, cheery color combination for welcoming spring.

My next post will feature my other spring tulips: Apricot Beauty, Beau Monde, Negrita and White Parrot.

Tulip history is from the excellent 1841 (reprinted in 1980) book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay.

More information about choosing, storing and planting tulips can be found in my earlier post here.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman, Drawing, Public Domain.

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10 responses to “Tulipmania 2010, Part 1

  1. Great pictures! I love Tulips too! And, I love your blog! Thanks for your post.

  2. Intriguing history & such cheerful flowers! Fab photos :-)

  3. I’ve never tried to grow or plant tulips, but they sure make me happy. Thanks for sharing such beautiful photos — they put a huge smile on my face! :)

  4. Hi Angela, Elisa and Debi! It’s so nice to see you all. You are as cheery as the tulips. Thank you for your lovely comments.

    Angela, I just visited your blog for the first time. It’s terrific and inspiring – I’m glad to know about it. Thanks for your enthusiasm and nice note.

    Elise, thank you. I’m glad you liked the history and the photos. I find the idea of tulipmania fascinating (and cautionary, of course.)

    Thanks also, Debi! I’m glad the photos made you smile. I totally encourage you to try tulips. They’re easy, and fun for kids, who can help plant the big bulbs and watch them come up. I have a link to tulip planting how-tos at the end of the post.

  5. These are beautiful photos. I’m even more impressed that you know the name of each one. I tend to forget this sort of thing and usually lose the label too! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I’m growing a descendant of that astonishingly pricey, sought after, tulip in my own garden. Seriously! I am! It’s called the Lac Van Rijn, dates back to 1620. Found it through an heirloom bulb company. Cost me $10 dollars, not 10 thousand, though in my mind it’s worth a million.

    LOVE your pics! Such a sweet celebration of spring.

  7. I love tulips too. They make a really vivid pink one that is my favorite.

  8. Hi Juliet, Kate and Weekend Cowgirl! (I don’t know your real/other name!) Thank you so much for your lovely comments and for coming and enjoying my tulips!

    Juliet, do you grow tulips? Are tulips coming up now around Inverurie?

    I wonder, Cowgirl, which vivid pink one is your favorite. Hmm.

    Kate, I can’t believe you are growing a descendant of the bulb that caused the whole tulip market to crash. Did it bloom yet? We have to see it. Which heirloom bulb company? I might just have to drool over a catalog.

  9. I want to purchase the same “tulip picture”, depicting the tulip mania, as shown in Wall Street 2, in Gecko’s home/office.
    Any suggestions on location?

  10. Pingback: Tulipmania 2012 | Slow Family Online

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