Writers Abroad Magazine Issue 3 September 2015 | Page 32

WRITERS ABROAD MAGAZINE Ten Surprising Facts About TULIPS An Article by Susan Carey Just one of the perks of living in the Netherlands is the inexpensive and enormous variety of flowers and bulbs on offer. Holland's national emblem has a decorative appearance which belies a chequered and unusual history: 1. The tulip originated in Turkey and was named after the traditional tulipshaped turban. 2. Sixty per cent of the world’s bulbs come from the Netherlands and threequarters of all global trade in flower bulbs passes through NL. 3. Export value of Dutch bulbs is approximately 600 million euros annually. 4. In the early 1600s, tulip fever gripped the Dutch. Bulbs were traded for extortionate amounts of money. Often the bulbs were “virtual”, passing from speculator to speculator, but never physically changing hands. 5. It takes seven to 12 years to cultivate a flowering bulb from a seed. This slow growing process raised the flower's value and fuelled tulip mania in the 17th Century. 6. The much-coveted “broken” variety (with striped petals), which fetched the highest prices during tulip mania, were the result of a virus in the plant. 7. The world’s first economic bubble burst in February 1637 in Haarlem, possibly triggered by the outbreak of bubonic plague in the city. 8. In WWII, many Dutch citizens were forced to eat tulip bulbs during the famine of 1944. This period is known in Dutch as the hongerwinter. Usual food supplies were either blocked or diverted to Germany. Eighteen thousand people died of malnutrition during the exceptionally hard winter. 9. The Keukenhof attracts around 800,000 foreign visitors each year. In the spring from late March to mid-May you can visit this 70-acre cornucopia of flowers. 10. Deborah Moggach wrote,Tulip Fever, which will be released in the autumn as a film. I recommend this novel/film if yo u like your fact peppered with fiction! WA 32 | S e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 5