Monday, May 2, 2011

Glorious Landscape Striping

At first glance, it looks like a giant child with a giant box of crayons has been set loose upon the landscape and drawn dazzling stripes of purple, yellow, red, pink, white, orange and green.

In fact, this is the northern Netherlands in the middle of tulip season. The Dutch landscape in May is a kaleidoscope of color as more than three billion tulips burst into bloom.

In the 17th century, tulip mania swept the globe and the most eye-catching specimens changed hands for a small fortune. The Netherlands produce more than nine million bulbs a year. Once the flowers are gone the land will be cultivated for crops of vegetables.

Canada has a special relationship with the Netherlands, and with its tulips. 

During World War II Canada sheltered Princess Juliana and her daughters for three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. In 1943 Princess Julianna gave birth to Princess Margaret at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. The maternity ward was officially declared temporarily to be international territory so that she would be born in no country and would inherit only her mother’s Dutch citizenship.  

When the war ended in 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude. In 1946, Juliana sent another 20,500 bulbs requesting that a display be created for the hospital, and promised to send 10,000 more bulbs each year.  

The Canadian Tulip Festival is held annually in May in Ottawa. It claims to be the world's largest tulip festival, displaying over one million tulips. More than 500,000 people visit annually.


  1. What a wonderful story. I never knew... thanks for posting this. What beautiful images. M

  2. Thanks Margaret for posting this. It was something I didn't know but should have. I was born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital and have always loved the tulips at so many of the Governmental buildings in Ottawa. My maiden name was Van Camp (rather Dutch) The colors in your photos are breathtaking.

  3. My father was born and raised in the Netherlands and survived his farm home being occupied by German military during the end of the war. As a tiny boy his uncle delivered bread and cheese to the royal household and when the delivery basket was empty he would put my dad and (eventual Queen) Beatrix in the delivery basket of his bicycle and ride them around the courtyard together. When the Netherlands was liberated, Dad lay on his back and watched the allied bombers coming overhead - little did he know the man he'd later attend the same church, live on the same street and call neighbour for 40 years, was a navigator on one of those very airplanes. They only found this out shortly before the gentleman passed away - how amazing is that!?!

    1. Very neat story! It's a small world, isn't it? And often beautiful, too, as in these tulip field photos, eh? ;)

  4. Joni, I was also born at the Ottawa Civic! My mother worked there years ago, and my eldest daughter was born there too.

    Christina, that's quite a story yourself!

    Here in Halifax the tulips and crocuses are coming up and some are blooming. Not so in Saskatoon yet!

  5. I'm born and still live in the flower district in Holland, The Netherlands. I live only 6 km from the Keukenhof, a park open only 9 weeks a year. As a fact I will be at the Keukenhof the next 4 days to show my art and hopefully sell something. I will be there creating between 8 a.m. and 7.30 p.m.

  6. So pretty! It'd make a great quilt.