Despite the snows still covering much of Europe, Spring has come to the Netherlands with the tulip season. The mind-boggling array of colors explode across the Dutch landscape. Majestic purples, regal reds, bright yellows, eye-popping whites dot the countryside from Haarlem to The Hague.
Tulips were first imported to the Netherlands in the 16th century, and the people quickly became obsessed with the flower. ‘Tulipmania’ reached its peak in the 17th century, when a single bulb could fetch as much as a canal-side house in Amsterdam. Today it is a major part of the Dutch horticulture economy, with over 2 billion tulip bulbs produced every year.
The tulip is also ingrained in the culture of the country, inspiring countless artists over the years. However, much of the international appeal of the bloom doesn’t just lie in its undeniable bright beauty, but also in the fact that they are so easy to grow. The tulip bulb can be transported to any garden or home, transforming them with a flash of springtime color and a bit of the Dutch countryside.
Tulips at Keukenhof
Each year at the famous Keukenhof park near Lisse has its gardens based around a central theme, and in 2018, this will be Romance in Flowers. While the gardens were designed during the romantic period for Keukenhof castle, the abundance of blooms also turns it into one of the most romantic spots in Springtime.
Gardeners at the park plant over 7 million bulbs by hand each September to prepare for this annual eight-week extravaganza at the world’s largest flower and tulip garden. The gardens cover 32 hectares or nearly 80 acres. Apart from tulips, they also plant daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, and other flowers. More than a million tourists visit each year to catch a glimpse of the gardens, and flower shows.
A trip to Keukenhof is more than a short stop, it is a full day outing. Apart from its flower shows, there are canal boat rides, playgrounds, restaurants, food trucks, and traditional windmills to experience, giving it a truly festive atmosphere.
Though it is still too cold for outside tulips, at Keukenhof hundreds are in bloom in indoor pavilions. Keukenhof officially opens to the public tomorrow, on March 22, and will stay open until May 13. Tickets start at €18 and can go up to €60.