I love to read old garden magazines. You learn a lot about the growth of…
Victorians reignited tulip interest.
Tulips have been popular flowers for the gardens of Europe and America since the seventeenth century.
After tulip mania, when the cost of a single tulip might equal the price of a house, tulips became common and soon gardeners lost interest.
In the late Victorian period once again tulips took off as important garden plants.
Garden historian Ruthanne C. Rogers’ article “The Man who loved Tulips ” appeared in the Journal of the New England Garden History Society. She wrote, “Although interest in tulips waned in the early nineteenth century, the Victorian period brought about a revival in this country.”
The seed companies and nurseries of the late nineteenth century fed that new interest though articles and illustrations in their catalogs. Of course such garden businesses also provided the latest tulip bulbs.
Nineteenth century Rochester, New York seed company owner James Vick (1818-1882) wrote in 1879, “Nothing in the floral world can equal the dazzling brilliance and gorgeousness of a bed of good Tulips.”
Vick often included illustrations in his catalog. Tulips surround the metal bird bath in this garden scene from one of his catalogs. [below]
An illustration from another Vick catalog showed a whole bed of tulips.
Vick often invited visitors to see the flowers, including tulips, that he had planted at his own home in Rochester. [below]
In his magazine Vick’s Illustrated Monthly Vick included this colorful chromolithograph of several popular tulips.
Merchant Alexander Hamilton Ladd (1815-1900), a passionate gardener in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, planted sixty thousand tulips every year. In his garden journal he recorded both the work and the enjoyment from such a massive planting.
He certainly embodied the Victorian love of tulips.