Tulip Fever: reasons why we all love the iconic Dutch flower
January marks the official start of tulip season! Tulip Day is officially celebrated on every third Saturday of January in Amsterdam. Here are seven facts about our favourite bulbed beauty.
The Golden Age
Back in 17th century Holland, tulips were legendarily worth more than gold. Tulips were originally introduced into Europe from the Ottoman Empire, when the ambassador to the United Provinces (now the Netherlands) sent tulips to Vienna. Europe’s love of these intensely coloured blooms spread. Tulips were such a hot commodity that they were worth more than some houses. (Oh, if only we could trade flowers for a house in 2018.) At the same time, the country was at the beginning of its Golden Age, so tulips became a symbol of wealth. Their desirability exploded, in what was known as ‘Tulip Fever’ or ‘Tulip Mania’. This period also serves as the backdrop for a 2017 movie of the same name, starring Oscar winner Alicia Vikander.
Abraham Mignon, 1660 – 1679
The word tulip is said to come from the old Persian word tulipan, meaning turban, because of their similar shapes. There’s also the theory that they were named after turbans because men in the days of the Ottoman empire would wear a tulip stem in their turbans. Either way, we love the imagery.
Tulips come in almost every colour imaginable, except a true blue. Some tulips look almost blue, but will actually be a shade of purple. One tulip variety whose colour really stands out is the ‘Queen of the Night’, a very deep purple flower that’s so dark it almost looks black. It’s the result of years and years of breeding in an attempt to get a unique black hue. Dramatic.
Tulips are the new kale – and onion?
There’s a hot new salad in town. Tulips not only look beautiful, but rumour has it they also taste pretty great. It’s true: Some tulip petals are edible. The taste is pretty similar to lettuce, with a peppery hint. Did you know: Some tulip bulbs can also be used as a substitute for onions in a lot of recipes.
A tulip by any other name…
Naturally, different types and colours of tulips have different meanings. Generally, though, tulips signify spring and love. But if you really want to go for it, give someone red tulips to confess true love. And if you’ve been bad? Then hand over some white tulips to the person you’ve annoyed. For everything else: Orange represents energy and enthusiasm. Interpret that at your own will.
Hans Bollongier, 1639
You Can’t Dutch This
The Netherlands are indeed the biggest producer of one of our favourite spring flower. In 2017, they grew and exported around two billion bulbs. The Netherlands is also world number one in flower trade, taking a whopping 44% share of the market. And 77% of bulb trade globally comes from the land of windmills and stroopwafels, most of which are yes, you guessed it, tulips.
Spice up your tulips!
There are around 150 species of tulips and over 3,000 varieties across the world. Some are naturally occuring, and some have cultivated for our viewing pleasure. New types are always being concocted up. But if you’ve got an idea for a great tulip design you’ll have to wait a while to see it. They take over 20 years to go from the initial cultivation to the finished product you’ll see in the garden centre. Playing the long (tulip) game.
Jan Jacob Goteling Vinnis, 1831 – 1900
Bonus: Do you know Rebel Yellow?
Indeed, after much work, bloomon went through the process and introduced Rebel Yellow, our own signature yellow tulip featuring a large feathery flower and petals.