As soon as we decided to come to Holland in April I also decided we had to see some of the iconic flower fields you hear so much about. And see in stunning photos and postcards. You know the ones, row upon row of flowers, banked by colour, for as far as the eye can see stretching out before you.
I was hoping we would get to see tulips but it seems they are later in April, right now, the beginning of April is all about hyacinth and daffodils.
The first tulip bulb was planted in Holland in 1593 and it is now a multi billion Dollar industry and where we are staying in Wassenaar seems to be the heart of it. The Bollenstreek Route, or Flower Route as it is known, is a well known route that starts in Haarlem and runs through Lisse to Leiden and ends in Naaldwijk, just 25km south. Pretty much anywhere along that route has fields of flowers, either right beside the road or just in the distance and accessible by a short detour. In early April it is clear to see though that later this month and into May the route will be a mass of colours.
Naaldwijk at the end of the route is a town you have probably never heard of but it is here that the world’s largest greenhouse area. You can do a guided tour of the auction house which offers an explanation of the process, from the moment the growers bring in their flowers to when the wholesalers, retailers, and exporters start bidding on the harvest.
Driving along the route we pulled into several lay bys, jumped ditches, and wandered across verges to then just kneel on straw and snap away. There is no security, I would have thought that with such a valuable crop there might at least be fences or barbed wire, but no, you are pretty much free to go and stand and snap away. Though everybody we saw was very respectful of standing on the straw and not getting up too close. It really isn’t hard to find fields to snap, and is great fun to see who can spot the next brightly coloured field as you drive along. Apparently during the summer when there are more fields in bloom (we could see a lot of fields clearly about to spring to life) there are flower sellers along the side of the road too, though sadly we just had bemused locals on bikes. And fellow tourists with straw covered knees.
The biggest Dutch flower auctions generate an annual turnover of nearly $5 billion
You really should spend an afternoon just driving around to find some fields if you come at this time of year, in fact it all kicks off at the end of January and runs until about mid May. And Holland being so flat you can see them in the distance and find them them even without a map. It’s stunning.
We have been exploring Holland whilst guests of Canvas Holidays at Duinrell just outside Wassenaar.