Once upon a time, tulips were the most expensive flower in the world, the basis for a speculative bubble in the 1600s that later burst. Lucky for those of us who like tulips, we no longer have to fork over a small fortune to own just a single bulb; today, mere mortals can now choose from thousands of varieties. And while tulips are associated with the Dutch, the flower actually originated in Central Asia — the Ottomans were the first to cultivate it commercially.
The photos above are from a recent stroll around my neighborhood (which is, alas, not in the Netherlands or Turkey). I planted three varieties of tulips when I started my garden a couple of years ago, but now only have one variety left. Those miserable squirrels are tulip-bulb connoisseurs. But I have had the last laugh — the variety they did not manage to steal is my absolute favorite: a flame-colored, graceful, lily-flowering tulip, Tulipa Ballerina. It is aptly named. When I look at the photo below, I can almost see a group of ballerinas, gracefully bending to the right, holding their arms above their heads as they prepare for the next movement.