When I think of Holland, two images come to mind – fields of crimson and buttercup tulips and Delft blue and white windmills. Don’t ask me why.
Traditionally, the first week of May is the perfect time for viewing ‘late’ tulips and bicycling along the Bloemen Route (flower route) between Haarlem and Lieden. However, as you’ll recall from my April adventures in Scotland, it seems spring came earlier setting temperature records through out Europe. As a result, the peak of the tulips (both in gardens and the fields) was around 10 April.
Thankfully, in Lisse (the heart of tulip country), the horticulturists have planted over 17-acres in the lovely Keukenhof Gardens to ensure that at least a few blooms persevere the eight week season.
On a very windy and ominous morning, I ventured out to see if any blooms remained…
Tulips were originally imported from Turkey in 1559. Over the following 70 years, their popularity and variety gained so much momentum that "Tulip Mania" swept the Netherlands in the 1630s. The rarest bulbs were auctioned for the equivalent of €4000 in today's money! Imagine the tech bubble of the late-1990s, only with flowers. Eventually, the bubble burst, and with it the fortunes of vast sways of the population.
Often the most outlandish shapes and variegated colors are the work of viruses.
I have never seen petals quite as curly as this (with the exception of another specimen called "Pink Panther").
Enough to make even the prettiest swan a wee bit jealous.
My favorite. I absolutely adore the soft pale 'blue' of these tulips. It reminds me of sterling roses... also a favorite.
There are, as ever, more images than space. But, I hope that gives you a flavor of the beauty and variety on show. Given that this is the closing weekend of the Chelsea flower show in London, I reckon these tulips could easily challenge any of the specimen plants on show.
Next up... some quirky gables and the likes from Amsterdam.