It’s flower season here in the great northwest! If you want to get up close to fields and fields of colorful tulips, don’t miss the 25th Annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
If you’d like to explore some of the fascinating history of these blooms, here is a bouquet of books exploring the appeal of flowers past and present:
In the Netherlands in the 1630s, during the height of what would become known as “Tulip Mania,” single tulips were being sold for more than the price of a house. This slim fascinating page-turner details not just the boom and bust of the Dutch tulip markets, but also explores the history of the tulip including its origins on the steppes of central Asia and its starring role in the court of an Ottoman sultan.
Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
Journalist Susan Orlean provides an entertaining look at the world of exotic orchids and the eccentric characters who are passionate, in a maniacal way, about them. She focuses on one particular fanatic named John Larouche who is a renegade plant dealer and “plant criminal.” Virtually every page tells of something (or someone) bizarre and intriguing.
A behind-the-scenes look at the modern flower industry, and the price we pay for perfection. Stewart travels around the world examining the intersection of nature and commerce in the world of cut flowers. Interspersed with her accounts of contemporary flower growing and selling are portraits of colorful characters and fascinating historical floral tidbits. Although this spotlight on the dark side of flowers could be depressing, Stewart’s energetic, enthusiastic personality shines through and keeps the reading enjoyable. Still, you won’t see cut flowers in the same way after reading this book!
Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach
This novel vividly evokes the place and passion of Amsterdam in the 1630s at the height of “Tulip Mania.” Reminiscent of Girl with a Pearl Earring (and published a year earlier, in 1999), Tulip Fever is a romantic drama featuring a portrait painter who falls in love with the married woman he is painting. Seventeenth-century Amsterdam comes colorfully alive in this fast-paced novel.