Sunday, April 30, 2017

Visiting Northern Japan--Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)

cherry blossoms, Tendo, Japan
Cherry blossoms, Tendo City, Japan
Japan is famous for celebrating spring with cherry blossoms. In mid April we flew from Colorado where we don't have a lot of flowering cherries but where the apples and crabapples were in full bloom.
apple blossoms, Colorado
Apple blossoms, northern Colorado

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tulips and the Tulip Bubble Part 2

This is part two of a pair of postsabout the Tulip Bubble, aka tulipomania, when in the 1630s in Holland the price of a tulip bulb inflated incredibly, and then suddenly dropped. My last post described Holland at that time. The merchant class had lots of money but because of sumptuary laws and Calvinist beliefs, spent it on houses and gardens not jewels and furs.Tulips had been introduced from Turkey after 1550. They were still uncommon and some highly desirable varieties were very rare indeed (link to previous post). The result was a bubble...


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tulips and the Tulip Bubble Part 1

Tulips are blooming.

red and white tulips

They're a riot of color that make people smile.

Yet economists make a Bad Example of tulips. Tulips created the earliest well-recorded bubble, defined by as "A period of wild speculation in which the price of a commodity or stock or an entire market is inflated far beyond its real value." Bubbles “burst” when a general awareness of the folly emerges and the price drops. 
The story gets a lot of attention because it seems so bizarre. How could someone spend thousands of dollars on a single tulip bulb? People did. At the peak of the tulip bubble, a bulb was traded for a house on the canal in Amsterdam, one of the most expensive locations in the world at the time. That's millions of dollars at today's prices. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Plant Story--the Merry Periwinkle, Vinca

Periwinkle is an early spring flower that doesn't get much notice. But it has long colorful history.

periwinkle, Vinca

The name periwinkle is an old English name for a group of plants native to Europe and the Middle East in the genus Vinca. The name periwinkle has been applied to a number of other plants, particularly related plants from the tropics with similarly-shaped flowers (Catharanthus). Periwinkle is also the name of a common seashell (Littorina littorea) and its relatives photos. I'll talk about the two species of perennial, creeping blue-flowered plants, Vinca major and Vinca minor, commonly planted all across the United States and much of Canada. You can find ornamental forms of periwinkle with variegated leaves and with flowers shading from deep blue-purple to white. Vinca minor, the common periwinkle is a little smaller but more winter-hardy than the greater periwinkle, V. major. They are members of the dogbane family Apocynaceae.