Tulip Mania!

August 1, 2011

Tulip fields

Did you know that one of the first economic bubbles ever recored was related to flowers? It was referred to as “Tulip Mania” or “Tulipomania” and it had it’s peak in 1637. In the 1600s The Netherlands began actively growing and cultivating tulips and the tulips introduction to Europe caused quite a frenzy. At Tulip Manias peak, tulip bulbs would sell for 3,000-4,000 florins depending on the bulb size. To give you a comparison, the average skilled craftsmen earned 300 florins per year. As a result, many Dutch people raced to become a part of the tulip industry. This flower driven economic upswing occurred during the Dutch Golden Age and was a large part that country’s notoriety at that time. Owning tulips became a status symbol and the most sought after tulips were multi-colored, although the solid colored tulips also sold at high prices. For the nobility in Europe, having a vase of tulips was the ultimate symbol of wealth.

Today, tulips don’t fetch as high a price, but they are still widely popular. In fact, 2 billion tulips are imported to the United States from The Netherlands every year. The Netherlands are famous for tulips and thousands of people travel there every year to see and photograph fields of them. Although tulips aren’t the economic boom  they once were, they are still a very successful and profitable industry, and of course are lovely at any occasion.

Lily of the Valley

May is the birth month of Lily of the Valley. These stunning white flowers symbolize happiness, purity of the heart, chastity, tears of the Virgin Mary and sweetness. The legend of these flowers is they came from Eve’s tears when she was sent out of the Garden of Eden. They are believed to protect gardens from evil spirits when planted. They have also symbolized humility, love’s good fortune and the idea of making one’s life complete from the legendary stories.

Lilies of the Valley have many different meanings to people from legend, folk stories and Biblical times. To Christians, the Lily of the Valley represents the second coming of Christ since it blooms so early in the spring. Brides love Lily of the Valley flowers in their wedding bouquets for its sweet smell and perfume and symbol of chastity, happiness, love and luck. Tales about the strong fragrance luring the nightingale to find his mate have also made this a popular flower for brides to choose. In Holland, these flowers are planted in newly married couples gardens to symbolize the renewal of their love.  Lily of the Valley is also Finland’s national flower. In France, on May Day, Lilies of the Valley are sold in the streets in large bunches and people wear a small sprig on their shirt to celebrate the tradition started by King Charles IX in 1561.

French legend holds that Saint Leonard, a close friend of King Clovis, retreated to live his life in peace in the woods and was antagonized by a dragon. Many battles between the two ensued with Saint Leonard being triumphant, however, much of his blood was shed and it is said that where his blood fell, Lilies of the Valley sprung up to commemorate his valor.

Lily of the Valley has a few other names such as Mary’s tears, ladder to heaven, lady’s tears and Jacob’s ladder. Lily of the Valley has also been known as “Poisonous Tears” since the entire plant is poisonous to humans, cats and dogs. If ingested, it can cause irregular heartbeat and pulse, upset digestion and create mental confusion. It can also cause skin irritation such as rashes or hives, if you come in contact with the pretty flower you should be sure to wash your hands and never rub your eyes.

Despite them being poisonous they are still popular to gardeners around the world. To read more about growing these in your Spring garden today, check out this site  www.easytogrowbulbs.com for more information on indoor/outdoor growing.

Flower Heirlooms.

April 15, 2011

Garden at Versailles

We all know how beautiful flowers are, but did you know they can also be historic? Heirloom bulbs are stunning examples of the beauty and the history of flowers. Some bulbs can be passed down from generation to generation and as long as they are cared for, these flowers can last indefinitely.

If you aren’t someone who has been passed down bulbs it’s still possible to find and plant historic bulbs. There are many websites on the internet that specialize in finding and selling heirloom bulbs. Some of these are more reputable than others so make sure your bulbs come with authentication. You can find bulbs from just about any period in history going back all the way to the 1200’s.

Just imagine, you could be planting gladiolus from 17th century France or 18th century authentic Dutch tulips. Heirloom bulbs make it possible to literally grow history in your garden! There are many types of heirloom bulbs to buy. For Spring planting, we recommend getting gladiolus, day lilies, dahlias, and iris. For Fall planting, we recommend trying daffodils, tulips, or hyacinths. The historical period you choose is completely up to you.

Personally, I have my backyard separated into sections by time-period. For example, I might say “Won’t you stroll with me through my 17th century tulips?” or “Welcome to my 16th century daffodil corner, tea?” I love being able to have a piece of history in my backyard! What makes planting heirloom bulbs even more appealing is that they are very reasonably priced. You can’t find anything else from 1888 for less than $20.

Have you planted heirloom bulbs before?