Nothing quite prepares you for a visit to Holland in the springtime. People talk of ‘flower fields’ but when you get there, it’s so vast and colourful that you feel as if you’ve been shrunk in size and placed in a giant surreal painting. It’s rather strange and wonderful at the same time.
You can’t help but be impressed by the scale and efficiency of the horticultural industry in the Netherlands. I visited Bakker’s Dutch HQ – a building with not only 11 different climate zones specially tailored for storing bulbs (28’C and dry is best for tulips, 10’C and humid suits dahlias – who knew!) but also a tulip x-ray machine (see photo) to ensure only the very finest bulbs are sent out to customers.
We then cycled through the countryside, past windmills and flower fields (cliché alert) to the flower show at Keukenhof. Not many British people have heard of it, which is a shame. It’s basically an unbelievably huge living bulb catalogue; all the big players in the bulb industry come to strut their stuff in the setting of a former royal hunting ground.
Seven MILLION bulbs, including 800 varieties of tulip, make a 32 hectare (79 acre) explosion of spring colour unparalleled anywhere else on earth. If you get the chance, go. It’s on until May 17.