This last week of cold weather did not get me any closer to getting my kayak in the water. The subject of my blog last week was the Lentetuin flower show and it was just too cold to make the journey this year for me. In fact they delayed the opening on Thursday due to the extreme cold until mid day. My flowers are now just colorful frozen reminders of warmer days that came and went all too soon.
I know that the cold weather is no reason to not post flower pictures or to reveal one of the wonderful gems that is hidden in our neighborhood. So this week it will be all about my favorite “pluktuin”.
A “pluktuin” is a picking garden in Dutch. You can find them most anywhere in the region but my favorite is Annemieke’s Pluktuin.
I have been going to this garden since they opened in 2009. Located just North of the town of Hillegom on the N208 it is a short bike ride for me each Spring as the weather gets warm enough. The garden opens in early March for “kas” (greenhouse) tulip picking.
Walking into this commercial greenhouse you can get the feel instantly that this is a actual tulip producer. The area is filled with farm equipment and machines used in flower industry. The earthy smell of the thousands of plants hit your senses as soon as you enter the building. Then as the doors of the greenhouse, where the plants are housed, are opened the temp starts to increase and your eyes are filled with row upon row of tulips in various, stages of growth.
The hunt is now on to find the color of tulip to pick. At .25 Euro per picked flower I couldn’t explain the sheer youthful feeling of happiness as I make my way through the entire greenhouse assembling my bouquet to take home. It is truly one of my happy places this time of year.
It gets even better. In April the more than 300, 000 bulbs that the farm plants each fall in their fields now start to bloom. The blanket of mixed varieties of tulips bloom until early May. These are also available to pick! A totally different experience from picking tulips inside the greenhouse, you are now at the mercy of the wind, rain, and sometimes sun in the fertile sandy fields. You can tip toe through the tulips looking for the perfect one to pluck. Depending on the day you can share the fields with a few to a few hundred other tulip lovers all wanting to pick or find that perfect color or variety to complete their bouquet. My favorite are the lily tulips and I keep my eyes open to find one in the mix. If I find it and I pick it, bulb and all, then add it to my pail. At the checkout counter the flowers are counted, bulbs are removed, and my final bill calculated.
So, Spring flowers are not your thing?
Then maybe summer flowers are more appealing, Annemieke also plants summer flowering plants in her fields. Those gardens are open for picking from August until October three days per week. I have found that the gardens are not as busy during the summer time of the year but the bouquets are just as beautiful.
If all this picking flowers isn’t your thing you can then rent a kayak from Annemieke and head off into the canals to explore the area around Hillegom.
I always leave this place with a smile and wonderful flowers. With my bouquet of flowers in my bike basket I head home making my way through the fields with the wind in my hair.
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