Plant a Tulip Tribute for Rembrandt’s 400th Birthday

NEW YORK, Aug. 2 /PRNewswire/ — To mark the 400th anniversary of the birth of famed Dutch artist Rembrandt in 2006, art lovers worldwide will celebrate with events and exhibitions. This fall, says Frans Roozen of the International Flower Bulb Center in Hillegom, the Netherlands, “Gardeners can add their own bit of color to the festivities by planting modern Rembrandt-style tulips to bloom next spring.”

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born on July 15, 1606, in Leiden, the Netherlands, a university town where Holland’s famous bulb growing industry had its start. Rembrandt-style tulips have flamed patterns and look similar to the varieties that were popular in the 17th century. See http://www.bulb.com/.

The first tulips were brought to Europe from Turkey in the mid-1500s and for many years, were grown only in university botanical gardens. “In the early 1600s, bulbs stolen from the University of Leiden’s botanical garden were put into cultivation,” says Roozen, “This sparked the famous speculation that became Tulipmania.”

During Tulipmania, bulbs were traded as futures, earning traders the equivalent of $60,000 a month while the bulbs were still in the ground! Prices collapsed in 1637, sending Europe into economic depression, an event still studied by economists today.

Tulipmania tulips had an exotic look, with mottled streaks, caused by a disease called mosaic virus. When the Dutch bulb industry first officially classified tulips in the late 1800s, these virus-infected varieties were called Rembrandt tulips. Virus-infected Rembrandt tulips are no longer commercially available in Holland.

Thanks to Dutch hybridizers, healthy disease-free genetically stable look-alike Rembrandt-style tulips are available today. So gardeners wishing to honor Rembrandt this fall can do so in good conscience.

Popular Dutch varieties of modern Rembrandt-style tulips include: Tulipa ‘Ice Follies’, Tulipa ‘Carnaval de Nice’, Tulipa ‘Mona Lisa’, Tulipa ‘Washington’, Tulipa ‘Flaming Parrot’, Tulipa ‘Marilyn’, Tulipa ‘Beauty of Volendam’ and Tulipa ‘Mickey Mouse’

Curiously, Rembrandt was not a painter of flowers; he was known mostly for portraits and allegorical scenes and was known for his dramatic use of light and dark, a technique called chiaroscuro. The late-nineteenth century bulb men who classified Rembrandt tulips likely sought to honor a great Dutchman who was a contemporary, if not a painter, of Tulipmania tulips. To learn more, visit http://www.bulb.com/.

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