The tulip has come to be a loved symbol of the Netherlands. Many tourists visit the country just to see the bright coloured flower and the astonishing view over the bulb fields. The season begins in March with crocuses, followed by the daffodil and the yellow narcissi. In April the hyacinths and tulips blosssom to some time in mid May, depending on the weather. Later, in August it is time for the gladioli. Even when spring is over, the Netherlands is still a garden, visitors can enjoy flowers in the Netherlands all year round.
From April to September fantastic flower parades are held throughout the country. The Bollenstreek Flower Parade is the biggest parade and is held at the end of April every year. The origin of the parade dates 50 years back in time when initiators of various small parades in the villages of the Bollenstreek decided to go together and organize one big parade. Floats with 1.5 million of different flowers are created by enthusiastic volunteers who are working on this for months. Popular flowers for these floats are daffodils and hyacinths, but in some parts of the country, only dahlias are beeing used. The Bloemencorso Valkenswaard is a smaller parade which also includes folk dancing and street theatre.
The Kerstflora (X-mas Flora) Show is held every year in December, a five day show of house plants and flowers grown under glass. In Lisse, the Museum De Zwarte Tulp or The Balck Tulip, have a extensive collection of historical material on the flower. This includes information about the cultivation and the evolution, drawings, photographs, tools and a look into the bulb trading companies.
Aalsmeer, close to Amsterdam, is the home of the world’s biggest flower auction. The auctions are held early in the morning but they are still very popular. Many tourists put their wish of sleeping in aside for a visit here. And it is not just for tourists, local cultivaters and 1.500 foreign growers send their products to the auctions. The flowers are sold to buyers all over the world, more than 75% of the flowers and plants sold at the auction are exported.
Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden (32 hectares) is located between the two towns of Hillegom and Lisse south of Haarlem. The park attracts 800.000 people during the open hours of eight weeks each year and it is one of the most photographed sights in the world. For the season of 2003, 7 million bulbs have been planted making the flower season someting very special to look forward to.
In 1949 the then mayor of Lisse, Mr. W.J.H. Lambooy, together with ten leading bulb-growers came up with the idea of a permanent annual open-air flower exhibition. They found the ideal site for this in the Keukenhof Estate, a former part of the enormous estate belonging to the castle of Slot Teylingen. The Countess of Holland, Jacoba van Beieren lived here in the 15th century and she used part of her estate as a herb and vegetable garden. Here, every day, the countess personally gathered the fresh ingredients for her kitchen. This has given Keukenhof its present name, which literally means Kitchen Garden.
The garden and landscape architects ‘Zocher & Son’ were commissioned to develop the park in 1840. They were well-known for their talents after designing the Vondelpark in Amsterdam. Some things has been added since the area became a flower garden but the original design can still be seen in the area surrounding the Beukenlaan, in the majestic trees and the pond. The first year 236.000 people visited the exhibition. Famous people who have visited the garden are the US Presidents Eisenhower and Clinton and Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. Keukenhof also had the honour of providing the décor for the first public appearance of Princess Máxima, who at the time was still the fiancée of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.
[Article from: holland.nl]