This photo was taken at Keukenhof, the largest tulip producer in the world. This was our first stop on our trip, arriving directly after our flight landed at 6 AM. A nine-hour overnight flight comes with several challenges, some of which I was not expecting. Before this experience, the longest I had ever flown was 5 hours, and it was a domestic flight. We were all extremely tired, and the six-hour time difference was not helping. However, we all pushed through and this place ended up being one of my favorites throughout the entire trip. Our tour guide explained to us that Keukenhof quite literally means “Kitchen Garden”. This is interesting because when we think tulips, we envision them being gifted to someone, or being used as decor in a home. However, tulip bulbs are actually edible and very similar to onions. So, when Keukenhof was founded, it began a place to grow edible flowers to be used for cooking. Back in the 1600s, in the midst of Tulipmania, a sailor mistook a tulip bulb for an onion and was thrown into jail for his crimes. As demand for different tulip cultivars rised exponentially, so did selfishness and jealousy. For example, some explorers would burn entire fields of precious tulips in order to limit accessibility for others, in turn making their desires all the more rare and valuable. Keukenhof is only open for a few months each year due to the short bloom period on the flowers themselves as well as the complete turnaround that is done between each busy season. Each plot is completely ripped up and composted, walkways are renovated and in the appropriate timing, next years tulip bulbs are planted. Each plot is designed to highlight a different breeder or set of cultivars.
Keukenhof was a great experience and I cannot thank Dr. Campbell and Dr. Holt enough for offering this opportunity to us.