A Tulip Story

This is for my mother who loves flowers and travel.

Since we moved to Europe my mom has visited us each year and, while she’s here, we plan a short trip to a European destination she’s always longed to see. So far we’ve been to Santiago de Compostela in Spain and Venice, Italy. Mom travelled to Mexico three times and she and Littlest flew down to Cali, Colombia at a time when many people would not have. My mom is always ready to lace up her travelin’ shoes.

When I was in the Netherlands last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the Keukenhof Gardens near Haarlem. It was a cold and rainy Saturday morning and I could see that some of my colleagues were bailing on our expedition. Truth be told, I had one bad moment in which I considered climbing back under my duvet but then I thought of my mom and how much she would love to see this garden. I grabbed my camera and my trusty waterproof MEC shell and boarded the Leiden city bus to the gardens.

The city bus dropped us off at the front gate of the largest flower garden in the world. The 70-acre garden is planted with more than 7 million bulbs.

Entering the garden was like walking into the wardrobe or through the looking glass…

The garden had been open for only two weeks and we found brand new tulips struggling to push their way through the dark earth. These ones were called “Shakespeare.”

There were a million reds and pinks on display… too many to count.

We rounded a curve and discovered a perfect windmill. Of course.

If you look closely you can see the rain drops on these perfectly ruby red tulips.

These flowers reminded me of poppies. About this time we ran out of words for “How beautiful…”

A tree blossomed like popcorn popping.

She is named “Pretty Woman” or perhaps that is what she calls herself.

These are the Monet tulips. That’s not their real name but I thought, when I saw them, that these were the flowers Monet would have designed had someone charged him with the task.

After lunch, I began to make my way slowly back towards the exit. Amsterdam was waiting. This is my blue boot.

Like frogs, hopping along the wooden lily pads, we skim the water.

Goodbye purple loveliness. Goodbye Keukenhof Gardens.


  1. Heather,Isn't it amazing? My first experience with tulips (other than my mother's) was at The Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa. It is a lovely event with an interesting genesis! In 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered Princess Juliana and her daughters for the three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The youngest princess, Margriet, was born in Ottawa's Civic Hospital and the maternity ward was temporarily declared part of the Netherlands so that the birth could formally be said to have occurred in Dutch territory. The Royal family still send 10,000 bulbs each year.

  2. Oh, teacher meeting world… I MISS YOU!!!! I do love to read of your adventures, dear friend. Congratulations on your "best of" nominations. Well deserved!!! Love, Sarah

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