There is no experience quite like visiting the vast tulip fields in the Netherlands. One cannot even imagine the exotic beauty of a colourful landscape with rows and rows of multi-coloured flowers unless one actually sees the spectacle first hand. In those respects, I feel myself lucky to be living in Amsterdam, where I get to witness the beauty of these tulip fields every year. In the below photographs you will see why the Tulip Season is the best time to visit Netherlands.
When one speaks of the Netherlands, one is sure to mention the tulip season that spans from mid-March to mid-May. Tulips are essentially perennial flowers that begin their blooming season in spring time. Come spring and it is a common sight to see the locals enjoying tulips that are planted around the canals and public spaces in the city. A number of events, festivals, parades and auctions and tours are arranged during the tulip season.
The above photograph was taken during sunset, when the golden rays of the setting sun lit up the orange, red and yellow tulips, giving off a fiery glow. In the vast expanse one can see purple, white and blue tulips as well. Fields filled with rows and rows of tulip plantations are a pleasure to the eye and a comfort to the heart.
Origins of the Netherland Tulips
Though as native to the Netherlands as bicycles and windmills, the tulip, surprisingly, was introduced to Europe by Ogier de Busbecq, the ambassador of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor during his stay in the Ottoman Empire in 1554. The tulip bulbs were soon seen across the cities of Augsburg, Antwerp and Amsterdam. Four decades later, after the botanist Carolus Clusius planted the bulbs, he found that the plants were able to withstand the harsher climates and produced beautiful flowers with fascinating saturated colours never seen in these regions before.
The booming East Indies trade in the Netherlands channelled the popularity of the flowers and cultivation of new and more exotic varieties gained momentum. Soon the flowers became a symbol of status and luxury. This period was known as the Golden Age of Netherland’s economy. 1633-1634 were the starting years of the peak of the flower trade, where tulips became the fourth leading export product of the country.
There was a time when no flowers actually exchanged hands, just contracts to buy bulbs were made and sold at the end of the season. In 1636 and 1637, while some bulbs contracts were changing hands about 10 times a day, the prices abruptly collapsed and the sales of the bulbs came to a grinding halt. This phenomenon is known as ‘Tulip Mania’.
Photographing the Flowers
I was able to do some close-up and macro photography in the tulip fields. Apart from an overwhelming sense of awe, standing amidst blazing beauty, I took some of my favourite images standing among thousands of others in a tulip field near Lisse. I used selective focus and blurred background to enhance the look of my composition.
The photograph below symbolizes love. These two flowers were taller than the other tulips nearby, and they were touching each other continuously while blowing in the cool breeze of the spring. I stood there for a while and tried different compositions until I finalised on this one.
Flower Parks, Museums and Parades
The country hosts a number of events, shows, parades, auctions and flower displays in the city during the tulip season. My personal favourite is the floating tulips in the Rijksmuseum with the famous ‘I amsterdam’ sign placed behind them.
Below you can see a tighter composition of the floating tulips at the Rijksmuseum. The night sky is reflected in the waters and the orange lights create a perfect blend of contrasting colours.
To experience the best of the Netherlands tulip season, one must visit during the Tulip Season and plan a visit to the Keukenhoff gardens near the town of Lisse and the Flower Parade.