As winter melts away, Amsterdam wakes up from hibernation during the weeks in-between March and May. Our first reward for surviving months of cold arrives in the form of thousands of colorful blooms. Crocus pop up to mark the first sights of spring, followed by daffodils and finally, our beloved tulips! When it comes to Dutch icons, tulips have certainly earned their status, dating back to their arrival in Holland from the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. Today, springtime in Holland doesn’t exit without glorious, tulips in every color.
While Amsterdam hosts plenty of blooms in colorful sidewalk gardens, windowsills, parks and along the canals, nothing compares to being surrounded by a vivid sea of flowers—it's both magical and refreshing. Endless rows of tulips can be seen in the countryside just a short trip outside of the city.
The town of Lisse is home to a wide range of flower fields that create a rainbow sea of blooms visible from the quiet rural roads. Aside from the fields themselves, Lisse is known for Keukenhof Gardens, a popular tourist destination that boasts hundreds of diverse tulips and over than seven million bulbs in bloom. Luckily, it's easy to explore the Bollenstreek without the hassle of a tourist trap. Rent a bike or car to explore the many flower farms in the area and create your own tulip adventure! You can head out further to explore other cities along the flower route Hillegom, Leiden and Naaldwijk. We even stopped visited a road side stand selling freshly picked bundles for tulips for only €2 of the farms along the way and pick up fresh flowers at road side stalls or
Despite the grey, spring clouds (and perhaps a tiny King’s Day hangover), I set off by train to meet up with my friend and fellow photographer, Anouk, who happens to live in Lisse, the modern heart of tulip mania. Fortunately, Anouk frequents the rural backroads of Lisse and she knew exactly where to find the fields in bloom. From one farm to the next, we rode in awe of our vivid surroundings and pulled over once and a while to carefully explore the flowers up close and before hopping back in the to search for another. Anouk was kind enough to snap a few photos of me in the flowers which was extra special since I am usually the one behind the lens.
Exploring with another photographer was relaxing in the sense that we share a mutual understanding when it comes to patience for finding the right light and an appreciation for how quickly all the different, delicate parts of a natural setting can change. Needless to say, wind and rain were a bit of a struggle while out in the fields but that didn't hold us back from crawling through the mud when needed. Of course, the moody overcast skies you see here eventually lead to rain and I found inspiration in the big, fat rain drops balancing perfectly on the delicate tulip petals and stalks.
Time passed differently out in the tulip fields, perhaps because there were far less distractions than in the city. I could focus on the details, like how each individual flower aded to the bunch while still holding its own individual character. Visiting towards the end of tulip season we found many fields with fallen flowers, scattered in disarray. The sight was a reminder to appreciate the moment and bask in the fleeting beauty of nature.
Dutch flower farms don’t only grow tulips—there are growing seasons for daffodils, dahlias and so much more. The aromatic hyacinths were my favorite. Their sweet fragrance mixed with the scent of muddy earth and fresh rain create that perfect smell of spring.
After trekking through a few fields, we settled down in Lisse's little city center for a tasty pizza before I headed back to Amsterdam by train with a box of of fresh hyascenth. Curious for more? You can see more outtakes from our tulip trip on my Instagram stories or join the conversation and visit this post on Instagram.