My earliest idea of Netherlands was it being the hometown of tulips. Such that, visiting this place has always been on my bucket list. So on the third day of our European trip, we set off to Keukenhoff, also known as the Garden of Europe, where millions of tulips are exhibited every year. There are two organised bus tours, one taking off from Amsterdam, and the other the Hague. We hopped on the latter one. On the way there, we already saw miles and miles of colours, all of which were the tulip fields. These tulips are often cultivated for the bulbs rather than the flowers.
Keukenhoff opens from mid-March to mid-May, with April being the best time of the year to visit. However, the preparation starts much earlier than that, from winter. Every year, around 9 million bulbs are hand planted into the ground, ready to be show cased to the public.
History of Tulips
Tulips bulbs and seeds were first brought to Vienna by a Sultant from the Ottoman Empire, then made their way to Amsterdam. It turned out Netherlands had the perfect condition for cultivating tulips: the right temperature, rainfall, and there is even snow in winter to protect the tulip bulbs from the frost.
The Dutch loved tulips so much, they cultivated and conditioned the traditionally stumpy flowers into the modern tulips we know today. At Keukenhof, a small plot was kept for the original tulips and the subsequent generations. As you walk through, you can see how the tulips changed throughout decades.
Here are the original tulips, short and sturdy. The modern tulips have developed a long way from them.
You have heard of the Gold Rush, the Dot-com bubble, but have you ever heard of the Tulipomania? That’s right, tulips got so popular around the 1600s, they were greatly celebrated and became expensive commodities, selling at thousands of dollars. Owning exotic tulips became the symbol of status. Many shrewd speculators saw the opportunity, purchasing tulip bulbs, only to ‘flip’ them for higher prices later on. Because of it, many have become rich, yet others became bankrupt. Due some of the absurd tulip fascination, these flowers became the causes of heart breaks, robbery and death.
Like any bubbles, the inflation of the tulip price bubble burst abruptly around 1636, even sending Netherlands into mild economic depression…
The tulip arrangements are often accompanied by hyacinth
The hyacinths have soft stems, so need to be propped up by small wires. Here, the gardener is putting the wires through the flowers to provide support
It was raining the day we went. This is Keukenhof just after the rain
Rabbits of Keukenhof
It seems like Netherlands shares my love of rabbits. Notably, the creator of Miffy, Dick Bruna, was Dutch. Across the gardens, there were many small statues of rabbits, of course, including Miffy.
Then, there were also the domestic rabbits. Near the entrance of Keukenhoff, there was a small farm, where you can find chickens, pigs, peacocks and rabbits.
Besides rabbits, there were also some other animals in the farm
Such a beautiful place. If you are looking for somewhere to explore in Netherlands, I highly recommend Keukenhof in Spring. One thing from my bucket list ticked off.