Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tulip Mania!

We arrived in Keukenhof, and this is what we saw:

This was cool

Here's the music it played

I've tried to mix up shots of the park, so you can see what it was like with all the people, and flower shots.

7 million flower bulbs - mostly tulips, but also daffodils, hyacinths, and some flowers I've never seen before. Many of the varieties are developed exclusively for the park, and they say it takes about 15 years to get the desired result. Fifteen years! You won't find anything like the above tulips anywhere else.

Daffodils were everywhere, too

And hyacinths

Tulips are not native to Holland. The introduction of tulips to Europe is usually credited to the Holy Roman Empire's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, who sent the first seeds to Austria from Turkey. Tulips were originally a wild flower that grew in Central Asia (modern day 'stans, Persia, Russia), from where the Turks themselves originated. (Look up "Seljuks" if you're interested.) The name "tulip" comes from the Persian word ‎‎ delband, which means "turban." I guess people thought they looked like the turbans that rulers wore.

The introduction of the seeds to Europe started a craze. Seriously, people lost their minds for tulips. Some single bulbs cost more than 10 times the salary of a skilled craftsman, who were pretty well-paid themselves. Historians call this period "Tulip Mania."

Many of the striped varieties were in the highest demand. We later discovered that the reason for these multicolored flowers was a virus - dubbed the "mosaic virus." Pretty incredible to think about how a virus can mutate the DNA of a living thing. Makes you wonder how much of human problems derive from viruses.

By 1636 the tulip bulb became the fourth leading export product of Holland. There was much speculation in tulip futures; many investors lost everything in the speculation. This kind of early crony capitalism created a tulip bubble, maybe the first global economic bubble to burst. In February 1637, amidst the peak of the bubonic plague in Holland, buyers stopped showing up at the bulb auctions. Pop.

The extent of the economic damage is debated, with many economists saying the damage was greatly exaggerated and that the collapse belief came about by propaganda from the same religious nutjobs who rode the Mayflower to "escape" "persecution" in Holland. (Come on - if you go around saying flowers are evil, people aren't going to like you. It's not persecution if you are INSANE.)

I took my hat off. Big mistake. It was cold!

The tulip industry did not die in Holland; in fact, the Netherlands produces 80% of the world's tulip bulbs. 4.32 billion bulbs are produced each year - 53% of these are grown into cut flowers. The remainder are exported. If I remember correctly from our canal tour, 60% of the world's cut flowers come from Netherlands, so the next time you receive flowers from someone, there is a good chance they came from the Netherlands.

On a related note, I bet you didn't know that the Netherlands is the world's top producer of onions.

To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment