Tulip Festival Noordoostpolder

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The history of the Tulip

Originally from Turkey, Tulips weren’t introduced to the Netherlands until the sixteenth century. The word tulip comes from the Latin word tulipa, the flower that looks like a turban.

The tulip arrived in the Netherlands in the sixteenth century. Botanist Carolus Clusius played a key role in the process, as it was via his network the tulips came to the attention of many prosperous citizens. By the seventeenth century the tulip had become so popular that it sat at the eye of a wild speculative trading storm. At the time, a great deal of cash was paid for even a single tulip. After this period, the tulip continued to remain popular in the Netherlands.

Over the course of the nineteenth century, commercial cultivation expanded out from the Haarlem region to what we refer now to as the Flower Bulb region. This expansion continued during the twentieth century in other parts of the Netherlands, such as the top of North-Holland and West-Friesland.

Tulips in Noordoostpolder
The polder was officially declared ‘dry’ on 9 September 1942. Shortly afterwards and at great haste, Noordoostpolder was set out and developed to create a unique agricultural region. The first tulips were planted in this polder during the 1960’s. It turned out that Noordoostpolder’s soil is extremely suited to bulbs. In current times, around 2000 hectares of tulips are planted annually. Together these produce almost 1 billion of sellable bulbs. Lilies, gladioli and grape hyacinths are also grown in Noordoostpolder to complement the tulips. On surface size alone, Noordoostpolder is the third largest flower bulb cultivation region in the Netherlands.

Tulips in winter
Tulips usually flower in the spring. It is and has been possible however to buy blooming tulips in other seasons. This is made possible due to the tulip cultivators, the so called forcers. Forcers buy tulip bulbs in summer and force these to bloom in winter. The bulbs are given a cold treatment in a cold store during autumn. The bulb reacts as if it’s winter. After the cold treatment the forcer moves the tulip bulbs to a warm greenhouse, where the bulb will bloom as a tulip within a couple of weeks. The flowers are then cut as normal and sold in bunches. Summer returns and the whole process starts afresh.

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