Monday, October 1, 2012

Flamin' heck

A so called 'Flame' variety of tulip, pictured here, allows me to use that hardly used expression 'go to flaming heck' which is quite a mild term compared with what was heard during the weekend footy finals; the most memorable being from Ben Barba who mouthed "f**k me dead" at one point.
I am not sure what I can write about tulips as British tulip guru Anna Pavord, whose book simply called The Tulip (Bloomsbury 1998), describes all there is to know about them. This one belongs to that group known as 'broken tulips' in which the tulip virus, spread by aphids, causes plain colours to break into a pattern of contrasting colours and hence become 'flamed' or 'feathered'.

A flamed flower has a stripe of contrasting colour which runs up the back of the petal and fine lines branch out like veins to join with the feathering at the edges. While a feathered flower is etched around the edge of each petal with a series of fine lines in a contrasting colour. In the 17th century, at the height of the real tulip mania these varieties were considered to be of literally worth more than gold or a sizable chunk of real estate.

'Schoon Solffer' by Bartholomeus Assteyn (1607-1667)
Historisch Museum ,Amsterdam

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