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Wednesday, May 10, 2017



17th CENTURY TULIP (Google photo)

Wednesday, 7:30 AM.  54 degrees F at the ferry dock, 51 on the back porch.  Wind WSW with light to moderate gusts. The sky is partly cloudy with some haze on the eastern horizon.  The barometer is steady at 29.88".  Today will be warm, around 70 degrees.  The balance of the week will be in the high 50's with mixed skies, and a chance of rain by early next week.
   Blooming dates for tulips can be all over the place, with many different species and varieties, some early, some later, so unless one is tracking a particular species or variety, or even a specific planting, about all I can say about when tulips bloom is that they are sometime after the first daffodils, and in Bayfield may last several weeks, blooming along with the last daffodils.  Cool, long springs here along the big lake are perfect for bulbs.  A caveat: deer love tulip bulbs, and if they get into a tulip bed they will root it up as though it had been roto-tilled.
   The genus Tulipa, in the Lily Family, is native to the Mideast and North Africa. The first tulip was introduced to Europe in 1554 from Turkey, and quickly became a  major economic product of Holland, where the climate was particularly amenable to growing the bulbs.  Different varieties and color patterns of blooms became prized for their beauty and actually became speculative items, whole fortunes being won and lost on the basis of the demand for a particular clone of the tulip bulb, and by 1637 the market for tulip bulbs had become a "bubble," which summarily burst, ruining many investors and gravely damaging the Dutch economy.
   That event, which became known as Tulipomania, was one of the first, if not the first, of modern speculative economic bubbles.   The story of Tulipomania reads like a modern account of commodity speculation, with terms like speculator,  futures contracts and short selling easily recognizable.  Bulbs were often bought and sold  many times over without the actual bulbs ever physically changing hands (while they were still in the ground).
   The tulip market fell but eventually came back at a more modest level, and bulbs and other flowering plants can even now be very valuable commodities, and buying and selling bulbs in quantity can still be a risky business for the unwary.

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