I’ve always loved tulips.  I have countless pictures of me as a child bent down to sniff the elegant petals of spring’s bloom (but, ironically, no pictures of my disappointed face when I realized tulips don’t actually have a scent).

Tulips have a great history.  As any good financial analyst knows, tulips were the source of the first economic bubble (and collapse) in Holland in the early 17th century, trading, for a brief period of time, for 10x the annual salary of an average worker in gold…

…and why not, for a bloom this beautiful?

Growing up in good old North Andover, my family always visited the Stevens Garden is spring for our tulip fix.  The last few years in D.C., the three of us would trek down to the tulip library by the cherry blossom- and tourist-dotted banks of the Jefferson Memorial.  And in Australia this weekend, we visited the Tesselaar Tulip Farm.

The Tesselaars came to Australia from the Netherlands years ago, and started their family farm in the Yarra Valley.  But contrary to public perception, and despite persistent images of the tulip along side clod-bearing maids, the Dutch were not the original tulip growers.  Nay, the Turks are thought to have supplied the first bulbs to the booming Dutch economy, triggering a national obsession, a breakthrough in botanical science, the boom and bust years of “tulip mania” and centuries of associating fields of blooming tulips with spring.

(Incidentially, Michael Pollan’s The Botony of Desire is a fabulous book about the interdependent relationship of man and plant and has a great chapter on tulips.)

Pictures of our day at Tesselaar are on the photos page.

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