The spring of 2012 is the time that many gardeners are planning a visit to Holland. Not only is the Keukenhof open and likely to be reaching its peak within the next couple of weeks. There is a new national perennial plant garden to check out which will be looking good in this its second year after planting, and last but not least the Floriade; the Netherlands’ international garden show, which takes place every ten years and lasts all summer. All of these will be featured here as and when I visit them myself, but in addition I think it is worth making everyone aware of some other gardening venues to consider adding to your itineries – starting with something in the very heart of Amsterdam;
The Amsterdam Tulip Museum
Situated on the Prinsengracht opposite to the famous Anne Frank Museum you are unlikely not to be in the vicinity during a visit to Amsterdam. Surprisingly until it opened in 2005, Amsterdam did not have a museum devoted to Holland’s most famous export product – the tulip.
Since the sixteenth century the tulip has been associated with Holland. Its history is well known, fortunes have been made and lost, but more importantly the beauty of this flower is admired throughout the world.
The Amsterdam Tulip Museum celebrates both the past and present history of this dramatic flower. It is owned and run by bulb experts whose families have been growing and trading bulbs for generations. If you need information or advice this is definitely the place to visit.
On entering the shop, the ground floor overflows with high quality souvenirs, books, and naturally bulbs are there to be taken away. Easier, maybe, would be to place an order and have the bulbs sent to your home address. In Europe their web site – Fluwel – is the place to shop, but for American customers, bulbs can be ordered and will be despatched by their American sponsors – Colorblends.
This year the museum has been relocated a few doors down the street to much larger premises. This has made it possible to enlarge the displays to create a venue where all aspects of the tulip can be fully celebrated. For a modest entry fee you will be able to admire slick displays of tulip vases, ornaments and paintings, but for me the most interesting part was a highly informative video which brings the history, botany and commercial production of the bulbs to life. For the video alone, it is well worth entering the museum.
To be critical, the museum displays are more decorative than informative; even though they are all well documented, most visitors will probably simply look and move on. I would also have liked to see more about the practice of growing tulips both in gardens and as cut flowers, which is after all the main focus of the current interest in the plant.
For top quality, unusual bulbs, gifts and books this is the best place for keen gardeners to shop in Amsterdam. It is surrounded by cafe terraces in the heart of the historic city centre of Amsterdam and really should not be missed.
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
1015 EA Amsterdam
Tel +31 (0) 20 421 00 95
–Fluwel to order bulbs from the Netherlands
–Colorblends web site has a lot of interesting information on bulbs and tulips in particular. Although a wholesale supplier, any bulbs ordered at the Amsterdam Tulip Museum for delivery in North America will be handled by Colorblends.