Right now it is tulip season, and the perfect time to check out the bulb fields around Lisse. Taking the train from Haarlem to The Hague is a great way to get a good view.
We asked the good folk at the Keukenhof gardens and a couple of leading growers which are the most popular blooms these days. Here is a list of 12, in no particular order.
Strong Gold: reputedly the strongest, boldest yellow tulip around. A go-for-gold bloom known for its longer vase-life.
- Leen van der Mark: a cardinal-red tulip that starts with yellow edges that ripen to a crisp white as the bloom ages. The strange name is in homage to a Dutch flower bulb hybridizer, no less.
Ile de France: this is the ultimate red tulip – elegant, tall, robust and traditionally beautiful.
Purple Prince: one of the first tulips to bloom at the beginning of the season, this large lilac-purple flower is often paired with Princes Irene tulips.
Ben van Zanten: first spotted in 1966, this mid-sized red tulip is square in shape. The bulbs are popular Dutch exports.
Purple Flag: in shades of purple from violet to fuschia, this angular tulip is often featured in bouquets.
Viking: a stunning double tulip in scarlet-yellow-green hues, this tulip is has been coveted for centuries, and remains popular with European and American gardeners.
Yellow Flight: this tulip is described as being a deep canary yellow colour that blooms early in the season and emits a light scent.
Princess Irene: one of the smaller in stature tulip varieties, the Princes Irene tulip, introduced in 1949, is named after a Dutch princess and is a mixture of orange and purple – think the colours of a sunset.
Yokohama: a single, yellow tulip with a considerable perfume and long-lasting season. Apparently eating these tulips may cause a rash and some stomach discomfort.
Debutante: now 40 years old, the Debutante tulip continues to delight with its cherry-red petals laced with soft white edges.
Seadov: a shorter tulip variety that is often used for ground cover, the Seadov tulip is cup-shaped and deep-red in colour.
During the height of Tulip Mania (1634-7), one tulip variety, Semper Augustus, the resulting bloom from a virus infection, was valued at 10,000 guilders for a single bulb, approximately the same price as an expensive canal-side house in Amsterdam.
Today you should be able to pick up a decent bunch in the spring for a couple of euros. We’ve always been told a pushing a pin through the stem just under the bloom is a great way to stop tulips growing once they have been cut.
Your tips for keeping cut tulips at their best are most welcome.