Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tulips

This troop of tulips spotted in a garden by one of the busiest inner-road junctions in the City. Nevertheless standing proud against the noise and fumes.

A certain seventeenth century medical undergraduate was in Holland during the height of 'Tulipmania' (1630-34) when vast fortunes were speculated and exchanged upon the sale of rare Tulip-bulbs. I just love the story of one speculator who having spent a small fortune on a rare bulb, when arriving at the docks to collect his expensive bulb, saw to his horror a workman tucking into a sandwich, adding to it what he believed to be an onion. The poor unfortunate was prosecuted heavily for his mistaken error.

There's an allusion to tulip-mania in the dedicatory epistle to Sir Thomas Browne's 'The Garden of Cyrus';  a mirthful and tongue-in-cheek observation upon the extremes some gardeners have gone to in their horticultural passion.

Some commendably affected Plantations of venemous Vegetables, some confined their delights unto single plants, and Cato seemed to dote upon Cabbage; While the Ingenuous delight of Tulipists, stands saluted with hard language, even by their own Professors.'

There's also the botanical query in 'The Garden of Cyrus'-

How the triangular capp in the stemme or stylus of Tuleps doth constantly point at three outward leaves.

I remember cycling in '83 through the vast industrial-sized fields of tulips cultivated in Holland. A truly eye-watering optical experience.





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