The tulip fields of Holland
If the sight of daffodils and other spring flowers raises your spirits after the greys of winter, why not pop across to the Netherlands and see the tulip fields in all their myriad colours? Let our gallery whet your appetite for the glory in store.
Each year, from March to May, the Dutch countryside becomes a sea of tulips, hyacinths and all manner of other flowers. Mere photos can only give a hint of the pure explosion of colour and scent all around. Amsterdam's bulb belt stretches for thirty miles from Haarlem, just outside the capital, to Leiden. Known as Bloembollenstreek – bloem is bloom or blossom, bollen is bulbs, and streek is region – it's a low land area close to the North Sea coast with a sandy soil and mild wet climate that makes it ideal for bulb cultivation.
The best way to view the sights is to rent a bike and cycle, maybe along the trail that links Oude Wetering and Gouda, or the one from Gouda to Willemstad where there is the attraction of the traditional Dutch windmills to add to the picture-perfection of the views. There's the chance to attend the biggest flower auction in the world at Aalsmer, or visit the Keukenhof gardens and have your breath taken away by the spectacle produced by over seven million flowering bulbs. “Get on you bike” never sounded such fun!
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Keukenhof – know as the Garden of Europe – is the one of the best places to view the abundance of spring flowers in the South Holland region of the Netherlands
Amsterdam's flower market – the Bloemenmarkt – reflects the country's passion for cut flowers and plants
Around seven million bulbs are planted each year in the park at Keukenhof, in an area of 32 hectares
The Bloemenmarkt - set on the capital's Singel canal and said to be the world's only floating flower market - has a score of stalls where you can buy all sorts of plants, flowers, bulbs and seeds
The mild climate of Holland, with its wet springs makes it an ideal place for bulb cultivation
Tulips originated in the east and were brought to Holland from the Ottoman Empire in the mid 1500s
In springtime, the lowland area by the North Sea is carpeted with fields of gladioli, hyacinths, lilies, daffodils, crocuses... and, of course, tulips
Keukenhof - literally 'kitchen garden' - is part of the hunting grounds of the ancient Teylingen estate
This year, the theme for the Keukenhof exhibition is Germany: Land of Poets and Philosophers
The patchwork quilt of colours in the Keukenhof park, just outside Lisse in South Holland, is a veritable feast for the eyes
The bulbs of Keukenhof are re-planted each year according to the current trends and in collaboration with a number of gardening magazines
Spring in Keukenhof is one of the main tourist attractions of the Netherlands
The best way to appreciate the full glory of the Dutch spring is to hire a bike and cycle one of the tourist routes among the bulb fields
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