Opinion: 'It's bloom and bust at Dutch flower market'

My daughter lives in Amsterdam, so it's a great excuse to hop over regularly to one of the loveliest cities in Europe.

Strolling along the Singel flower market is a favourite weekend treat but I've never actually bought any of the tulips the country is so famed for.

And I was right!

According to complaints to their consumer watchdog, tourists are being ripped off with poor standard bulbs, with only 1pc of those sold blossoming, never mind remotely resembling the photo on the package, despite high prices.

"Millions of tourists and day-trippers are being duped," said the head of the Royal Bulb Growers' Association last week after a probe by authorities. "There is chronic deception."

Younger readers may think our property boom and bust was the first bubble of its kind where cheap money fuelled a fictitious hyper-market before collapsing in on itself, but older ones will recall the dot.com bubble of the 1980s and before that (stay with me) the Wall Street crash of 1929, but the granddaddy of them all was the tulip bubble of 1637.

At its height, a single bulb traded for the equivalent of thousands of euro in today's money. Frantic buyers believed the tulip was so precious, so unique, it could only grow in the sandy soil of the Netherlands.

A crazed market madness ensued for a couple of years for traders as growers produced increasingly variegated blooms, before it flopped like a wilted stem almost overnight.

Fortunes were lost, speculators from across the continent wiped out.

I think I'll stick to just enjoying the colours on my trips!

Sinead Ryan is a journalist, broadcaster and author.

First published in the Irish Independent