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I am looking forward to the next few weeks for the simple reason that we are heading to tulip time. I confess to being a lover of tulips because to me they are the only flower I know that has personality. Yes, roses are beautiful, daffodils bring us hope of Springtime. Lilies give us wonderful scents but the sheer cheekiness of tulips amuses me. An inexpensive interior design idea that lifts my heart and makes me smile.

Bring Tulips Into Your Home

Cut about one centimetre off the bottom of each stem, and then place your bunch of tulips in a magnificent vase. Half fill with cold water, add cut flower food and then put in a well lit place but out of direct sunlight. Tulips are phototropic meaning they will bend towards the light. This is often over the vase edge as if they are curious to explore their new surroundings. To keep fresh and increase the tulips’ shelf life, leave them somewhere cool overnight if you can. And please, refresh the water every day. None of us perform at our best when wearing the same clothes for several days running – tulips feel like that too. Each day and every few hours the tulips stems will curve and twist to seek the light. With their swan necks you just never know which way those blooms are heading. No matter how competent your arrangement, these floral rebels will ruin your plan! Think freelance and fabulous rather than streamlined and structured.

The History

Despite this light hearted outlook on life, the tulip has a serious and fascinating history. A history that forms the precursor to today’s financial futures market.

The tulip originates from Central Asia and Turkey. It was then brought to Europe by Dutch traders in the 16th Century. Tulips reached their zenith in Holland in the mid 17th Century. Tulip petal colours would be inconsistent from one bulb to the next. Petal colours would change into multi-colours. Often a different tranche of colour would appear at the bottom of the cup shaped bloom. Botanists would compete to grow increasingly unusual variations. (The irregularities were, in fact, caused by a virus within the bulb). Holland was one of the wealthiest countries in Europe at this time. They had a buoyant trading ethos and economy. Tulips bulbs became an alternative to money and were exchanged for vast sums. Sometimes more than the price of a house. Tulipmania is regarded as the first major financial bubble, it reached its peak trading point in 1637. It collapsed within a week leaving many totally destitute.


As a reminder to those of us who are willing to take note, Holland’s love affair with floral excess endures. Not far from Amsterdam at Lisse, lies Keukenhof Park. 32 hectares containing in excess of 7 million flower bulbs. These include tulips, hyacinths irises and others. They offer a Spring time spectacular on a grand scale. Breathtaking blooms on an exaggerated scale – or is it Tulipmania of a more cultivated approach?