Tulips might not be the first flower that comes to mind when thinking about Christmas, but many bouquets will contain these famous Dutch flowers. Most commonly they will be red or white, but there are many other varieties and colours available.
It is a bit rare to get tulips in the winter as they normally bloom in spring. They need to be planted in late summer, early autumn. However, with modern technology and the use of glass houses, you are able to get tulips (or any other flower) all year round.
Tulips are commonly linked with The Netherlands who made the flower commercially popular. The flower has its origins in Turkey (or former Persia) before it mades its way to Western Europe. In ancient time, when you gave someone a red tulip you declared your love to this person. Same as with roses these days. In the 1600’s the tulip became so popular that it changed into a very expensive commodity. Tulip bulbs were used as currency! One of the stories goes that the person who could grow a black tulip was going to get a small fortune. No one knows for sure if this story is true, but the price of rare tulip bulbs was high and worth a lot of money.
Over the years the value has dropped but the popularity of the tulip has remained as well a the importance to the Dutch. This has resulted in a dedicated garden being build to showcase these flowers.
The Keukenhof (Kitchen Garden) is also known as the Garden of Europe and is the worlds biggest flower garden. In about 32 hectares around 7 million bulbs are planted each year! Imagine the man-hours that goes into planting these bulbs and maintaining the gardens. The majority of the flowers are tulips but you will also see some other varieties like daffodils, amaryllis and orchids. They are grouped together in large amounts to create very colourful displays.
Every year the Keukenhof selects a country that they want to use for a themed garden. For 2013 they have selected the United Kingdom. If you visit the Keukenhof in 2013 you will see a display of Big Ben and Tower Bridge made of flowers.
The colourful displays and variety of flowers makes it an ideal location for photography. It is always very busy so it takes patience and clever moving to get pictures without anyone in it. If you can visit early, but you probably will spend a full day walking through the gardens. My only further recommendation is that you make sure you take a spare memory card with you as you will take far more images than you think.