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The Tulip is not a gardening book. It is the story of a flower that has made men mad. Greed, desire, anguish, devotion have all played their part in the development of the tulip from a wild flower of the Asian steppes to the world-wide phenomenon it is today. The U.S. alone imports three billion tulip bulbs each year, Germany and France even more.
Why did the tulip dominate so many lives through so many centuries in so many countries? The author, a self-confessed tulipomaniac, has spent six years looking for answers. No other flower has ever carried so much cultural baggage; it charts political upheavals, illuminates social behavior, mirrors economic booms and busts, plots the ebb and flow of religious persecution.
The tulip made great fortunes for people but was responsible for equally spectacular bankruptcies. Millions of aficionados now gaze in awe at the brilliant flower pieces painted in the early seventeenth century by masters such as Ambrosius Bosschaert. But at the time they were painted, these works or art were considered as cheap substitutes for the real flowers. Even Jan van Huysum, the grand master of Dutch flower painting, could rarely command more than 5,000 guilders for a painting. But at auction in Alkmaar, Holland in 1637, a single bulb of the red-and-white tulip "Admiral Liefkens' changed hands for 4,400 guilders.
Roaming through Asia, India, Russia and the Ottoman Empire, the author tells how the tulip arrived from Turkey and took the whole of Western Europe by storm. In the petals of the exquisite English florists' tulips, still exhibited in competition by members of the Wakefield Tulip Society in Yorkshire, runs the blood of flowers first grown by John Evelyn in the middle of the seventeenth century.
Sumptuously illustrated from a wide range of sources, the book also features descriptions of eighty wild-species tulips and several hundred garden varieties. This beautifully produced and irresistible volume will become a bible, a unique source book, a universal gift book and a joy to all who possess it.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.