The Tulip Anthology by Ron Van Dongen

Jun 9, 2012

Please, judge this book by its cover.

Dongen tells the story of the tulip from ancient times, when the tulip was first admired as early as the 1050s in the area of what is now China, Tibet and Russia. Tulips are also mentioned frequently in Arabic and Persian poetry.

The tulip was once a greatly desired plant. In the 1520s gardens devoted purely to tulips first appeared in Europe and tulip bulbs were introduced to the French court, where they became highly fashionable flowers. By 1630 there were 300 florists in Istanbul trading tulip bulbs.  By 1636 tulips traders made the current equivalent of 300,000 British pounds per week.  In the 1600s, “tulip mania” brought many people and nations to economic ruins. 

But history often repeats itself:  In 2003 65 million Euros were lost when a tulip marketing company declared bankruptcy.  Tulips have also invaded space; the Tulip Nebula is 8000 light years from Earth and when seen from a telescope projects hues of red.

The Tulip Anthology is dedicated to the beauty of tulips. It is richly illustrated with photographs, including pictures of unique species, bookplates of historical engravings and drawings, aerial pictures of intriguing fields of tulips in Holland, and well-known Flemish still life paintings containing tulips, as well as Victorian-era wallpapers, tiles and other objects with early depictions of tulips. It tells the story of the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands, which laid the foundations for tulip breeding and the bulb industry of today.  In 1850 the seemingly impossible was achieved and the black tulip was cultivated. Today gardeners still have available 1680 breeds of Keizerskroon bulbs.

Reviewed by Library Staff