NL: The Keukenhof

Part of the fun of dating someone from another culture is being able to experience new and familiar cultures with a curious eye. In Canada, I play tourist. In Europe T, plays tourist. (I must admit, I think he’s better at playing tourist than I am.)

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Earlier this spring, when we were in the Netherlands T took me to The Keukenhof to see the tulips. He wanted to show me Holland, and he too had never been. Tickets were 24 euros for an adult.  As a business school nerd, I have a soft spot for tulips and the role they played in modern day economics (efficient market hypothesis).

In business school, one of my favorite economic lectures was that of  “Tulip Mania,” the first reported financial bubble and bust. During the Dutch Golden Age, the recently introduced tulip bulb could fetch quite the price. To the Dutch, the tulip represented their fortunes. The flower with it’s rich and saturated color petals differed from every other flower “known” to Europe (at the time). In the peak of the bubble 1636 to 1637, the price of tulip bulbs rose (not that rose) at an ever escalating pace (monthly inflation reached over 1100%) and tulip bulbs were selling at prices 10x more than what a skilled worker would make a year. In February of 1937, the tulip bubble burst and the prices came tumbling down.

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Although the Keukenhof has little (if any) reference to Tulip Mania, exploring the garden was a colorful experience rich with beauty, history, and even tulip science. For example, I had no idea that each year after the flower has bloomed the tulip bulbs are harvested. One bulb can create several new bulblets, and each bulblet takes 2-3 years to mature into a commercial grade bulb. I also didn’t know that the tulips with striped colors were originally created by a tulip virus.

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The Keukenhof is a giant 200-hectare garden filled with more flowers than you can imagine. In 2017, more than 7 million flowers from 100 different companies were part of the attraction. The flowers on display represented everything from Victoria Secret Tulips, to Ice Cream Cone look-a-like Tulips. Since 1950, flower bulb exporters have been showing their florals at the Keukenhof to awe struck visitors. The garden is only open three months a year, and each season over 500,000 visitors flock to see the blooms.

If you find yourself in or around the Netherlands next spring, a trip to the Keukenhof is a must!

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