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Flower power

The height of the tulip season is just coming to an end here in Holland. Tulip time really must be seen to be believed. All of a sudden, as the spring weather  starts to get better, tulips of all colours start popping up, along with hyacinths, daffodils and then on the tail end of the season, irises.

One of my favourite things about this time of the year in the Netherlands is the train ride from Leiden to Haarlem, alongside the Bollenstreek, the area of the Netherlands where the majority of the tulips are grown and where you can see the quintessential Dutch flower fields in full bloom. It sure makes for a much more enjoyable trip than usual, seeing the flashes of colour stretching for field upon field whizzing by out the window.I also get a real feeling of, “yes, this is it, I am in Holland”, much like when I stroll past a windmill, or past one of the ubiquitous frites vendors (don’t forget the fritesaus!).

I try to snap pictures of the tulips out the train window, but the speed of the train largely thwarts my efforts (much to my chagrin). The best shot I have been able to get was this one, which if nothing else at least gives a sense of what I am talking about:

But perhaps the best place to see the tulips up close and personal, so to speak, is at the Keukenhof gardens, a veritable tulip wonderland (covering a staggering 32 hectares) which is actually also the largest flower garden in the world. We visited last year and I was astonished by the graceful gardens and the amazing variations of colour on display, both of which you can see in some of the photos that we took.

Approximately seven million bulbs (!) are planted here every year; the garden is only open for a short two and a half months every year (mid March to mid May), so you really have to time your run to see the garden in optimum bloom.

One thing that really struck me is that Keukenhof has colour blocking down to a fine art. Perhaps the fashion trend actually derives from nature with human intervention?!

Sure, Keukenhof is touristy. In fact many of the Dutch people I have talked to have never visited the garden themselves, even if they are into gardens, flowers and the outdoors. Personally, I think it’s worth it, and it is a great way to kick off spring time here in the lowlands. One of my favourite things was spotting where the colour blocking and Dutch precise-ness went a little wrong. Spot the difference?

Nature wasn’t intended to be perfect, after all!


Photos taken by CIA and PJD at Keukenhof, 2011.

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