February meeting: Tulips – secrets and desire

It was a pleasure to welcome back Amanda Ruse who gave us a most interesting talk on the great plant collectors, the Tradescants and the phenomenon of Tulipmania in 17th century Northern Europe.  Amanda had researched her topics with typical enthusiasm and thoroughness, explaining the stories behind many of our common garden plants that had been originally collected and brought to this country by the Tradescants, father and son.  Tulipmania gripped the aristocratic gardeners in the 1600’s with tulip merchants making vast fortunes and only came to an end because of the ravages of the Great Plague in the late 17th century.  Amanda gave us an insight into Dutch auctions, which began in the time of Tulipmania to bid for the hugely expensive tulip bulbs.  After being given cards with new identities, we held a Dutch auction to bid for two sought- after prize tulips.  Needless to say, the people who were the wealthy merchants were the ones who were able to make the highest bids and the poor workers got nothing!