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As the true harbinger of spring, blubs never fail to delight plant-lovers and laymen alike – and have been doing so for a very long time.

Bulbs have been enrapturing humans for hundreds of years. Passions for the showy numbers, like tulips and hyacinths, have even affected nations’ stock markets. At the height of the Netherlands’ Tulipmania in 1638 a single bulb could cost more than a skilled labourer earned in a year. Highly sought after bulbs, with prestigious names like Admirael van der Eijck and Semper Augustus, were sold for ridiculous amounts or swapped for high-value items, such as 12 acres of prime land. Hyacinths experienced similar popularity in the early nineteenth century.

Even the more delicate flowering bulbs can elect strong passions. In England, a field of bluebells stirs the heart of many a patriot as one of the idealised visions of the national countryside. This site is held in such esteem it is illegal for landowners to remove the bulbs from their fields. In other parts of Europe, people’s passionate plundering of the dainty snowdrop has lead to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna to ban the international trade of the bulbs.
In Australia, bulb-related passions don’t quite reach these levels, but it would be a hard-hearted person who wasn’t cheered at the site of these pretty flower nodding their pretty heads during spring.

 

Kate Jordan

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