Sunday, April 27, 2014

Het tulpenboek

No, I am not Judith Leyster all of a sudden, but I thought Dutch was the appropriate language for the announcement: my second book is out! You can read all about Time and Fevers on my website.

Here is the cover:

The image is an anonymous (similar to Leyster's, but not credited to her) watercolor of the ultra-valuable "broken" (i.e., infected with a virus) tulip Semper Augustus, which is the MacGuffin of my tale, the object that my pair of time travelers is after, at great cost to their already shaky personal equilibrium.

I feel more on-topic discussing this one on the gardening blog, because tulips and gardens figure in it in an important way. (The first book in the series centered around tea, but the smuggling and drinking of it more than the growing.) I had a great time exploring 17th-century Amsterdam and environs in my head and on the page, along with burbling about the philosophical aspects of walled gardens and Arcadia and Paradise, and the craziness of market forces; I hope the result is as enjoyable to readers.

I went out a bit earlier to photograph flowers and such (another post coming later, sort of the ides of GBBD) and did manage to capture a few tulips, but wow, I used to have a lot more of them. I've kind of given up, because of deer-munching, but I suspect there are a few places I could still slip some in (inside the garden fence, if nowhere else). The above one is a lone Orange Emperor being all dramatic in the shade under the dogwood and next to the cherry laurel. And have some cute little clusianas while we're at it:

I was going to take a photo of the glaringly orange 'Surprise!' tulips, a couple of which still managed to flower this year (well over a decade after planting, in eight inches of clay by the mailbox) as part of their usual catfight with the (now fading) purple-pink magnolia, but though they were there yesterday, they were gone today, and the way the stem was snapped off implied that deer rather than passing pedestrians had found them irresistible. Oh well, I hate them anyway.

A lot of people around here just shrug and say "Tulips are annuals" but I have found some to be reliably perennial (and, all joking aside, not just because they are planted where they will clash violently with other flowers). The Triumph line is pretty long-lived, and most of the little species tulips last for years. Where they don't get eaten.

If I try tulips again, I will probably go with cheaper ones I can afford to lose to ruminants, rather than the beautifully tempting offerings of Old House Gardens. But they are so beautiful and historic - and they have true broken tulips. (The 'Rembrandt' mixtures found in more common garden catalogs are not virus-infected, just stripy. But they're pretty and I have planted them before.) I'm sure they wouldn't mind if I steer you their way with a lovely image borrowed from their online catalog:

Silver Standard, c. 1760
That one costs $17.50 each, but if you're into rarities, this is the place to go.

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