Tulip mania is a real thing! I wrote a little about it last year when I showed off my Delft China Tulipiere -- a vase especially for tulips.
It was a very long time ago that tulips were the coin of the realm in Holland, way back in the 1630s. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about that...(mind you I would NEVER let my students use Wikipedia as a credible source, so I am breaking one of my cardinal rules!)
Tulip mania (Dutch: tulpenmanie) was a period during the Dutch Golden Age when prices for some tulip bulbs reached extraordinarily high levels, and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637. It is generally considered to have been the first recorded speculative bubble in history.
The growing popularity of tulips in the early 17th century caught the attention of the entire nation; "the population, even to its lowest dregs, embarked in the tulip trade". By 1635, a sale of 40 bulbs for 100,000 florins (also known as Dutch guilders) was recorded. By way of comparison, a "tun" (2,050 lbs) of butter cost around 100 florins, a skilled laborer might earn 150–350 florins a year, and "eight fat swine" cost 240 florins. The price of tulips skyrocketed because of speculation in tulip futures among people who never saw the bulbs. Many men made and lost fortunes overnight.
The term "tulip mania" is now often used metaphorically to refer to any large economic bubble when asset prices deviate from intrinsic value.
Interestingly, the striped tulips that we saw at Descanso were historically the most valuable. But really, it's not about how much they cost, but how much joy they bring! I really need to use my tulipiere before all my tulips bloom out -- I will definitely take a picture and show you!!!!