You might think that all of the world’s tulips come from Holland and that every field is covered from head to toe in them. To some extent you’d be right but don’t be fooled into thinking the little flower has been born and bred in the Netherlands. The only reason they are so famous for these colourful little flowers is because they’re so perfect for growing there.
The tulip originally comes from much further west in Europe and into Asia, around Turkey especially. The Ottoman Empire loved tulips around the 15th Century. Tulip comes from the word ‘tuliban’ which means turban. The flower was brought on a holiday to Holland though during the 16th Century by various diplomats and botanists, one being Carolus Clusius of Leyden, who is credited with having a big hand in the emigration. It quickly took off with botanists, artists and everyone in between. Holland is the perfect home for the flower, as its temperate climate is slightly cool enough and at just the right temperature in the Autumn when the bulbs are planted.
It’s not myth that if you drive around Holland you see fields and fields of tulips as far as the eye can see. The colours are so varied and beautiful it’s like looking at a huge painter’s easel. But what are the best ways to see these wonderful flowers?
By bicycle and barge. Hop on a barge in Amsterdam to the beautiful village of Hans Brinker then jump onto your bike to cycle to Haarlem. You take in little towns and villages by barge and bike such as Lisserbroek and then stopping at the flower-park Keukenhof, which is a place you have to see to believe.
Keukenhof is for tulip lovers what Disneyland is for cartoon lovers. It’s one of the most photographed places in the entire world and when you get there and see the thousands upon thousands of tulips in all shapes, sizes but, above all, colour, then you’ll know what I mean. It’s a marvel.
If you want to finish your tulip trail off in style, then you’ll want to head to the Flower auction in Aalsmeer. No prizes for guessing what happens there but plenty of prizes for those who fancy bringing some of the beauty they’ve seen back home with them. At 240 acres in size, Aalsmeer is the largest flower auction in the world.