Thinking of Spring

I have always loved planting spring flower bulbs.  Even as a teenager, passing by displays at the local nursery or in Home Depot, I would stop to see what was available and more likely than not, pick up a package to put in the ground.  Daffodils are my absolute favorite flower, but I also really love tulips.

This past April, J and I took a visit to the Netherlands for our April anniversary.  I have always wanted to see the tulip fields.  Interestingly, tulips are not native to the Netherlands – they were imported by Ogier de Busbecq, the ambassador of Ferdinand I to the Sultan of Turkey around 1554, and spread across the continent.  For some reason they took off in the Netherlands.

As our flight was landing at Schipol Airport, you could see these huge swaths of color dominating the landscape.  It was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be.

Near Amsterdam, in the town of Lisse, is the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens, a flower park featuring more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.  We took a day trip out there to admire all the flowers:



Ice cream tulips



Keukenhof very thoughtfully has several tulip vendors situated within the park, where you can view their color catalogs of tulip bulbs, make your selections, place your order, and those vendors will very helpfully ship those bulbs to you in the fall for planting.  It’s not legal for you to pack the bulbs in your luggage because they must be inspected by USDA inspectors before shipment to the United States, and if you had to carry them back in your luggage you might feel more restrained in your purchasing.  By simply filling out the order form and handing over your credit card, buying tulips is virtually painless!
Until half of the 240 tulip bulbs you ordered show up on your front porch one cool October afternoon:
I will say that these bulbs appear to be the healthiest I have ever purchased – a quick inspection shows they are free of bug damage, rot and mold that have plagued purchases I have made in the U.S.  I would hope they would be a higher quality, given the cost associated with them.  However, the tulips were ones I had never seen here in the U.S., so they were worth it.  To me, anyway.
I can’t help but think that in 16th century Amsterdam, I might have been a victim of tulip mania.  Probably not, though.  I don’t play the stock market now, so I would have been unlikely to speculate on the value of something I would be most interested in planting in the ground.
“Every person is like a single tulip.  While they may blend when together, each one is special in its own light.” – Daniella Kessler 

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