The Netherlands are world famous for flower bulbs. Yet bulb cultivation in the Netherlands is limited to a few regions, the flower bulb areas. Usually, these are regions with a sandy soil. Flower bulbs thrive best on sand. Fluwel grows its flower bulbs on sandy soil too, along the North Sea coast. What is the history of the different Dutch flower bulb areas? Here you can read more on that.
Flower bulbs in the Netherlands
The first Dutch flower bulbs grew in Leiden, in the botanical garden of the university. They were planted there by Carolus Clusius, a scientist who did not only introduce the tulip in Europe, but the potato as well. Leiden was the first bulb region of the Netherlands - but initially the tulips did not leave Clusius's botanical garden. Only after a theft (read more about it on tulip mania), cultivation could spread.
Flower bulb city Haarlem
The first real flower bulb region of the Netherlands and Europe grew near the city of Haarlem. Here the first growers settled. Around Haarlem there are dunes, with a sandy soil so where bulbs thrive so well. Haarlem became the Dutch city of flowers. Until today, Haarlem has a famous annual flower market on the Saturday before Pentecost and near Haarlem, the so called “Bollenstreek” (Bulb Region) stretches out.
Hillegom, Lisse, Keukenhof: that is the Bollenstreek, the landscape between Haarlem and Leiden, the two cities where the bulb found his first Dutch home. The bulb fields here have become a tourist attraction. Every spring, hundreds of visitors from all over the world come here to see the flower bulb fields and parks. When the fields are in bloom, the railway track between Haarlem and Leiden is easily the most beautiful in the Netherlands.
Flower bulbs around Alkmaar
The Bollenstreek remained the very centre of Dutch bulb cultivation for centuries, though there were some other regions. Very old is the bulb region around Alkmaar, with the village of Limmen in the centre. The soil here is similar to that of the old flower bulb area (Bollenstreek). North of Alkmaar new flower bulb areas became important, for example in the West-Friesland region.
Zijpe, Breezand, Texel: the North
The next enlargement was further north, to the flat land above Alkmaar. Den Helder is another city of flowers, with the famous hyacinths growing in Breezand and Anna Paulowna. Texel island has its own flower bulb tradition. Finally, there is the Zijpe, that beautiful, old polder on the North Sea coast. This region is called "the North". The old Bollenstreek between Leiden and Haarlem is sometimes referred to as "the South".
New land for flower bulbs
In the 20th century, new bulbs regions were added to the Netherlands. Literally, because there was new land reclaimed. The old Zuyder Sea became Flevoland. Especially the Northeast of that province is now an important flower bulb area. In North Holland province, the new land of the Wieringermeer also provided new soil that became used for growing bulbs. Thus, the North became larger and so the North became the main flower bulb region of the Netherlands.
Flower bulbs and traditions
The Bollenstreek is famous for the “bloemencorso”: a parade of floats full of flowers processes through the villages in the old Bollenstreek. This is how the flower harvest is celebrated. It is a beautiful tradition. In the Netherlands, parades are broadcasted on television, so they are well known. Less known are the Flower Days in Anna Paulowna, in the “North”. Here the harvest is celebrated with beautiful mosaics of flowers. A trip through the village is a real pleasure.
Fluwel from South to North
Fluwel stands in a long tradition. We carry the history of the bulb in our DNA. Our ancestors came from the South, the Bollenstreek, but Fluwel itself was founded in the North, in the Zijpe. And nowadays Fluwel itself is considerably expanding, with Land van Fluwel and of course many beautiful fields full of bulb flowers. Bulb farmers have always explored new horizons. Fluwel is exploring the world. Our bulbs go everywhere through our webshop – even to your home!