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Crazy Flower Times - Part 1, Tulip Mania

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We think everyone would agree, we are definitely living through a strange period in time at the moment! We’re all adjusting to a new normal, and some things probably won’t ever be the same again. Throughout history, there have been periods of time when things have just been, well, a bit crazy! And this got us thinking if this was also true for flowers. As with anything, flowers over time have gone in and out of trends, and there have been some pretty strange flower-related obsessions over the years. So, we thought we would bring you a 3-part series explaining some of the more unusual flower periods the history books have seen. And you never know, it might just make you feel a bit better about the way things are right now!

It’s hard to believe, but there was once a time when a single tulip bulb cost more than a worker made in a year! Those pretty little signs of spring that decorate people’s front gardens, once found themselves at the centre of a huge financial frenzy. We’re talking about Tulip mania! 

Tulip mania describes a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for tulip bulbs reached outrageous levels and then dramatically collapsed. This period in history chronicles one of the most famous market bubbles and crashes of all time. During the 17th century, Dutch investors furiously purchased tulips, pushing prices to unprecedented highs. It’s reported that during tulip mania, the average price of a single bulb exceeded the annual income of a skilled worker and cost more than some houses at the time! 

Tulips first arrived in Western Europe in the late 1500s and quickly became a fashionable status symbol for the wealthy. Some bulbs grew with random “broken” colours, which made them highly prized due to their rarity. Bulbs were used as currency, with one report suggesting that “at one point 5 hectares (12 acres) of land were offered for a Semper Augustus bulb”.

Eventually prices peaked, and subsequently crashed, causing many tulip hoarders to lose their fortunes. There are claims that many investors were ruined by the dramatic fall in tulip prices, and that Dutch commerce suffered as a result. Some historians believe, however, that there is not enough data to prove that a tulip bulb “bubble” even existed, and that, in fact, tulip mania is more myth than fact, with the financial situation at the time having been overly exaggerated through retellings. But whether tulip mania actually existed or not, the term "tulip mania" itself is now often used as a cautionary warning tale about the hazards of the free market.  

Good news is you do not have to be a multimillionaire to enjoy our beautiful blooms! We stock a gorgeous selection of locally-grown flowers and plants, not to mention a wide assortment of fantastic gifts, cards and home decor products. Visit our website to place an order, or come and see us in store! And don’t worry, tulips will be available in the spring!


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