Tulip growing tradition in Holland

Thanks to European Union rules, tulip bulbs can be grown year-round, with very few restrictions. Dutch farmers, wanting to try something unusual, began to grow tulips of varying shapes and colors, bringing the non-turbulent winter of 1705 to life in the heart of the Continent. Outnumbered by tulip growers in nearby England, the Dutch overcame their inferiority complex and began shipping bulbs to their neighbors in North America.
The movement was made possible because at the time, tulip bulbs were considered precious. It all seemed crazy. As seen in the original image, there was no cultural or religious reason for growers to believe that it made any sense to plant them in the springtime, just days before the planting of wheat. It was inconceivable that tulips should bloom in the spring, and yet – they did.
They weren’t just flowering, but giving off a pungent, hallucinatory perfume. With more people began to take notice of this aspect of tulip-growing, the growth of the fungus that causes botulism, a potentially fatal illness, was dramatically increased. To add insult to injury, the Dutch got in on this development by selling tulip bulbs to regular gardeners in the United States.
Under the confusion that resulted, consumers got the idea that certain bulbs (which had been extremely rare) could even be good for them – and they paid a significant premium. In 1814, blooms could be found in as many as half of American gardens. Needless to say, the tulip did not make its way back to Holland, and will, these days, be far more easily replaced. This story appears in the print issue of June 8, 2019.