The Tulip Scent of Amsterdam
What are the first images in your head when you hear “Amsterdam, Holland, the Netherlands, Dutch?” if you are one of the typical visitors of this country and city, then probably you’ve just thought of something bright, colorful and sweet-smelling…Tulips! These nice flowers remain one of the highlights of the country, being well-recognized and loved all over the world. But how did it all start and why have the flowers originated in the Ottoman Empire become the symbol of the Netherlands? In anticipation of National Tulip Day in Amsterdam this Saturday, let’s have a closer look at tulip mania and its meaning for the city!
From Turkey to the Dutch tulip madness
The Central Asia has known tulips as wild flowers for centuries and Turkey has been cultivating them since 1 000 AD. It took the Netherlands quite a bit of time before they discovered these charming flowers in the end of the 16th century thankfully to a pioneering botanist Carolus Clusius. He was the head of the Leiden Hortus Botanicus, which is actually the Europe’s oldest botanical garden and very much worth visiting. Little did Carolus know what planting tulip bulbs received from his Turkish friend would do to the whole nation and country of the Netherlands. The local upper class got crazy about the beautiful tulips and were ready to invest just about anything into a few tulip bulbs to show their status. Not only the Dutch were willing to pay extremely huge amount of money per bulb, but they also were selling their houses, businesses and land to get those luxury flowers.
The middle of 17th century was the time of booming Tulip Mania with stock exchanges for bulbs trade, thousands of tulip traders and flowers sold per weight while still being in ground. This first economic bubble and excessive supply inevitably led to the crash of the tulip market and lots of people going broke. The only good result of it was the abundance of new flower species, shapes and colors.
Not just a flower
The huge interest of the elite in this flower made the growers and dealers come up with a large variety of this product. New types of tulips were cultivated with many colors and patterns that had not been known before. The Golden Age upper class admired the species of multiple shades with petals full of stripes and flames. Only later they discovered that these patterns were caused by the flower mosaic virus, while the healthy flowers had to be solid and of one color. Nowadays, the variety of tulips is attained by creating hybrid flowers- the majority of which are grown in the Netherlands. This country produces more than 4.32 billion bulbs of different tulips annually and sells them to all the world destinations.
National Tulip Day
Tulips are so much important for the Netherlands, that the Dutch celebrate National Tulip Day each year, which marks the beginning of the tulip season. This time it will take place the upcoming Saturday, the 21st of January from 1 pm to 4.30 pm, bringing flower joy to all the locals and visitors on the Dam Square. It will be a bright vivid celebration with thousands (last year it was around 200 000!) tulips of all colors given for free to all who attend the event. A great advantage is that these tulips come with bulbs and can be planted in your garden or in a flower pot inside the house. This year National Tulip Day has a specific theme “Europe,” so you can only guess what can be expected in relation to it, but better come and see it yourself.
The season of tulips
The marvelous season of the Dutch national flowers will last till the end of April with legendary Keukenhof, the Tulip Festival at various locations in Amsterdam and enormous fields of tulip power of the Flower Strip. If you happen to be in the city out of the tulip season, then you can still have a good glimpse at the Dutch national flowers and their history at Amsterdam Tulip Museum in the Jordaan. Aalsmeer Flower Auction FloraHolland, the largest one in the world is another spot worth visiting along with Aalsmeer Historical Gardens taking you back to old times. Fancy some tulips shopping? Amsterdam Bloemenmarkt on Singel canal is open all year round offering you both the cut flowers and tulip bulbs (please bare in mind various customs regulations on plants and seeds though). A bag of Dutch flowers bulbs will make your memories last and your love for Amsterdam grow in a flower pot. Lots of unforgettable impressions are guaranteed for flowers lovers and everybody who can appreciate the beauty of colors and uniqueness of tulips on the land of the Netherlands.
This post is also available in: Dutch