Don’t you love it when spring arrives and you finally get to see the spring tulips? So what could be better than traveling to Holland to see the enormous gardens that explode with colors and fragrances? How about a customized trip or a river cruise that takes you to visit those gardens?

The Tulip

But before we talk about traveling there, have you ever wondered where the tulips came from and how they got so popular? Long before tulips were grown in Holland, they occurred naturally in areas of Greece, Turkey, China, Northern Africa, and eastern Europe. In the 16th century, the Sultan of Turkey sent bulbs to Vienna. In 1593, the Flemish botanist Carolus Clusius planted a collection of tulip bulbs. The bulbs were able to withstand the harsh weather and soil, thus increasing their popularity throughout Europe.

Photo Courtesy Amsterdam Tourist Office

Photo Courtesy Amsterdam Tourist Office

 

Tulips became so fashionable, growers introduced many varieties.  The most sought after tulips were those with a red, brown or purple background with white or yellow streaks. These flames, as they were called, were actually created by a virus that affected the plants.

The wealthy embraced the trend to own these prized flowers. As prices rose, wealthy individuals, tulip traders and speculators began a purchasing frenzy known as the “Tulip Mania.” Some investors traded property, even their homes, to get into the tulip market. Eventually, the tulip market collapsed leaving some with huge gains and others with huge losses.

Photo Courtesy Amsterdam Tourist Office

Photo Courtesy Amsterdam Tourist Office

Springtime in The Netherlands

Lucky for us, tulips continue to flourish today. Gardens of springs flowers such as hyacinths, daffodils and snow drops join tulips creating an explosion of colors, shapes and varieties. Imagine the awe of seeing large field of flowers with colors spreading for acres. This is what awaits you.

Hollanders love tulips so much, they are planted throughout the country. But if you’re looking for something really spectacular, a visit to Keukenhof Park is a must. The Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is located between Amsterdam and The Hague.

Long before it became a park, the grounds were owned by the Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria, who gathered fruit and vegetables for her kitchen at Teylingen Castle.  In 1641, more than 200 years later Kuekenhof Castle was built and the estate grew to almost 500 acres.

Photo Courtesy Amsterdam Tourist Office

Photo Courtesy Amsterdam Tourist Office

In 1857, the gardens were redesigned by landscape artists in the English landscape style. Today, flowers are supplied by almost 100 royal suppliers who showcase their best variety of spring flowering bulbs. Working with each supplier, garden designers fashion special designs for each garden based on colors, heights and flowering times of their bulbs. Every autumn, suppliers deliver their prized bulbs to be planted so visitors can enjoy the springtime blossoms.

The gardens are easily accessible from Amsterdam or you can select an excursion here while on your river cruise. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of over 7 million tulips with more than 100 species offered while strolling the gardens or taking a boat ride to view the fields. In addition to the springtime flowers, there are five greenhouses providing a wide selection of plants and a number of fountains to add to the beauty. The Kuekenhof park is open every spring with dates varying from year to year.