duminică, 25 mai 2014

Flowers II

Tulips were first grown in Western Europe in the middle of the sixteenth century. They were cultivated by Counsellor Herwart of Augsburg, a man famous for his collection of rare exotic plants. The bulbs were sent to Herwart by a friend from Istanbul in Turkey, where the tulip had already been popular for a long time. (The word “tulip” is believed to originate also from a Turkish word for turban.)
In 1559 tulips were seen in Herwart’s garden by Conrad Gesner who, in the following ten years, claims to have popularised them in Europe. Tulips became sought after by the wealthy, especially in Holland. Wealthy people in Amsterdam dispatched their men directly to Constantinople (now Istanbul) for bulbs, paying high prices for them. The tulip’s reputation then grew to such heights that, by 1634, wealthy people who did not have a tulip collection were judged to have bad taste. Many learned men, including Pompeius de Angelis
and the celebrated Lipsius of Leyden, the author of the treatise “De Constantia,” were passionately fond of tulips.
An overwhelming desire to own tulips gripped the middle classes. Merchants and shopkeepers, even those with modest incomes, began to vie with each other for tulips – and in the preposterous prices they paid for them. A trader from Harlaem paid half of his life savings for a single bulb. He didn’t buy for profit; he just wanted his friends to admire it.
The popularity of the tulip in Holland is inexplicable. The Dutch are generally prudent people, yet tulips are inferior to roses in both beauty and perfume. Even sweet-peas are prettier than tulips, while both sweet-peas and roses flower for longer than tulips.