There was a time in seventeenth century Holland when the tulip was a hot commodity. The most sought-after tulips suffered from a virus that broke the colors into streaks. Eventually, a whole speculative trade came into existence in which people who bought the bulbs never saw and never possessed them. Traders sold bulbs from catalog drawings like those presented here. Tulip fever reached its height in the winter of 1636 when a single bulb traded as many as ten times in a day. One bulb might sell for as much as a grand house in Amsterdam. Then abruptly in February, there came a day when traders just stayed home. The bubble had burst. Fortunes had been made and lost. Today tulips are a common garden flower seen in spring everywhere. But once they were treasure!
My new book, Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds, has half of the story take place during this fascinating time. https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX
When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to Upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease.
When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia has to contend with what she may have inadvertently brought home with her.
This is the Semper Augustus, a remarkable tulip of the 17th Century which fueled the world’s first love for the exotic and magical bulb. My recent visit to the Keukenhof gardens indicates flower lovers still lust after its charm. So do I.
Several years ago, I got caught up in the story of the tulip. Way back in 1554, an ambassador to Turkey sent some bulbs and seeds back home. These found their way into Vienna and then into the Low Counties. It took the careful work of Carolus Clusius (a botanist at the University of Leiden) to cultivate and catalog those bulbs that could tolerate the local conditions and soon tulips were popular. Newly independent Holland had a unique flower and it soon became a luxury item. More and more fantastic species were developed. The most sought after tulips actually suffered from a virus that broke the colors into streaks. Eventually, a whole speculative trade came into existence in which people who bought the bulbs never saw them and never possessed them. Tulip fever reached its height in the winter of 1636 when a single bulb might be traded as many as ten times in a day. Then abruptly in February, there came a day when traders just stayed home. The bubble had burst. Fortunes had been made and lost.
This is the background I used to create a YA ghost story. The manuscript has come within a hair’s width of publication four times with different publishers. My own gamble and bust market. Eventually, I do think this manuscript will come into the world, but until then enjoy some photos of the tulips that fueled, Tender Tulips, Dark Diamonds: A Ghost Story. The flowers of the Keukenhof are breathtaking and short-lived.