Thursday, May 13, 2010

In Bloom

Magnet # 241:  Basket of Tulips

Material:  Clay

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

Today is Tulip Day, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to post this magnet, which is one of my Mom's favorites. She and my Dad picked it up at the airport in Amsterdam while they were switching planes. Yes, I do prefer to have where my magnets are from printed on them, but this is a pretty neat one nonetheless, capable of brightening up a day, particularly if it's Tulip Day.

I'm not quite sure how Tulip Day came about, but it's not a bad idea to have a day that recognizes these lovely flowers. Although nearly everyone associates them with Holland, it was actually the Ottoman Empire that first latched onto the bloom, first cultivating it over two thousand years ago. According to their legend, the first tulips came about when they bloomed from drops of blood shed by a lover and to them, this flower was a symbol of love. It's believed that the word actually came from the Turkish word for turban, as they resemble them a little, and the empire's most prosperous time is referred to as the Tulip Era.  By the time the bulbs were imported to Northern Europe in the 1500's, they were regarded as the symbol of the Ottoman Empire.  Of course, in England and Holland they rose to even greater prominence, eclipsing every other flower in both countries.  For three years in the 1630's the tulip craze reached its peak during a time known a tulipomania.  The bulbs sold for absurdly high prices and the flowers became a form of currency.  People invested their fortunes in the bloom and lost them when the bubble burst.  But, even then, tulips continued to be popular and they are one of Holland's most recognizable symbols.  Over the years, they have brought tourists and commerce to the country and even kept its citizens alive in hard times when they had nothing else to eat.  And people still flock to Keukenhof in the Netherlands, home to the largest collection of tulip in the word, and other colder areas like Ottowa, Canada, Holland, Michigan, and even parts of Australia for tulip festivals.  And for the Northern Hemisphere, April is the best time of the year to view these beauties.  I suppose that's why Tulip Day falls during this month.

If you'd like to see some tulips in person, but live in a warmer climate, you're in luck. Wayne Daniels in Southern California has figured out the trick for growing tulips in a hot climate. For 30 years, he has been growing the flowers in his front yard, much to the delight of his neighbors and others who drive from all over the area to see them. With their encouragement, he continues to add more blooms every year and has gotten up to over three thousand. Even better, Daniels is very generous about the secret of his success - tricking his bulbs into thinking they're in a colder environment. For weeks prior to planting, he stores them in the refrigerator in his garage, making them feel like they're in a northern area. So when he plants them, one by one, magic happens. Tulip lovers in Southern California have made his home a very popular spot, but if you can't make it there to check out the tulips, you can always see if Daniels' tip can work in your own yard next year. Isn't it great that, thanks to him, tulips are even more accessible to people all over the world.

So stop and smell the tulips, or perhaps tiptoe through them, if you're able.  There are over 2,000 varieties of this beautiful bloom and they can be shaded in nearly every color.  I saw the Netherland's tulips for myself when I was younger and even if I don't really remember it, we still have photos of me seated amongst them.  And now, other children are in those same fields, discovering the lovely flowers for themselves.  The tulip craze may be long over, but its popularity will never fade away.

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