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Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Tulip Bed at Descanso Gardens

If you were to ask me what my favorite flowers are, I would unhesitatingly answer, “Tulips!” (In a close second would be California Poppies.) Yesterday, Martine and I braved the springtime crowds at Descanso Gardens to see the springtime flowers. Our first interest were the tulips, which we were the first thing we visited when we got there, and then again the last thing we saw before closing time.

What I love most about tulips are the gorgeous colors. Unfortunately, they last such a short time and are not seen anywhere for most of the year. They originally came from the Middle East in the 11th century AD, and were taken up by the Dutch only around the 1500s.

The world’s first speculative bubble was not in stocks or currency, but in Dutch tulip bulbs. The bubble lasted from 1634 to 1637, and saw numerous fortunes made and lost. In 1850, Alexandre Dumas Père, of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo fame, published a novel called The Black Tulip, which is well worth reading. It contains the following syllogism:

To despise flowers is to offend God
The more beautiful the flower is, the more does one offend God in despising it
The tulip is the most beautiful of all flowers
Therefore, he who despises the tulip offends God beyond measure

Tomorrow: The California Poppy.