Five hundred years ago, explorers returned to Europe from Africa, the Americas and the East with exotic and beautiful plants.  Wealthy collectors bought, traded, and stole rare specimens for their gardens.  Long before today’s frenzied speculation in Internet stocks, fortunes were made (and lost) in the market for tulip bulbs.  Choice bulbs sold for literally their weight in gold. Flowers represented a status symbol and a form of conspicuous consumption. Eventually, fashions changed, and these elegant flowers fell out of favor.  Serious gardeners were interested in more recent discoveries and in new "improved" hybrids.
Since the 1980’s, there has been a resurgence of interest in gardening and in antique (or “heirloom”) plants.  Many old species, once difficult to obtain, are now available commercially.  This project focuses on documenting which species of flowers were in cultivation in the period 1500-1615.  The site also includes some practical information about finding and growing these plants.
Research and site design by Jane Abbott.