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BONNIE'S GARDEN--A Little Trip to Holland

This time of year, I’m surrounded at work by tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other assorted bulbs—most of them grown in the Netherlands.  The Netherlands produces about 80% of the world’s flower bulbs—approximately 9 billion bulbs a year.

Nine billion!  Evenly distributed, that allows for about two bulbs for every person on the planet.  Tulips alone account for more than one-third—about four billion.  If you placed them four inches apart, they would circle the equator about seven times. Out of the four billion tulips grown in Holland every year, about 53% are grown for the cut flower trade. 

That’s quite an output for a country of only 16,000 square miles—half the size of the state of Maine!

What’s even more astounding to me is that not one bulb is native to the Netherlands.  Tulips are native to the mountains of Turkey and Russia; daffodils are native to Spain and Portugal, hyacinths are native to the eastern Mediterranean; dahlias are native to Mexico; calla lilies and gladiolus are native to South Africa; Lilies are native to North American, China and Japan; and crocus are native to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The rich and sandy soil and temperate climate of the Netherlands make it an ideal place for growing bulbs, however they’re also one of the world’s top exporters of flower and vegetable seeds.  They are also the world’s top exporter of cheeses and onions.  And even though tea was originally “discovered” growing in East Asia by the Portuguese, it was actually introduced to the rest of Europe by the Netherlands in 1610.

Just to set the record straight, the correct name is the Netherlands.  Holland actually refers to the western coastal regions—where most of the flowerbulb production is. 

The highest point in the Netherlands is only 323 meters above sea level, with 25% of the country below sea level and about 50% of the country less than one meter above sea level.  That makes about two-thirds of the country vulnerable to flooding—if not for the nearly 80,000 kilometers of dikes.  The windmills that everyone associates with the Netherlands were used to help drain fields of water.  The Netherlands is so well-known for dealing with flooding that the United States turned to them for help after Hurricane Katrina.

All in all, the Netherlands is a small but pretty remarkable country  Did you know they even invented Gin?  Originally called "jenever" it was originally used medicinally.  So the next time you enjoy a gin and tonic you might want to order French fries with mayonaise--that's the way they eat them there.  Me?  Well, as much I love my Netherlands grown flowerbulbs, I'll probably continue to eat my fries with catsup!
Posted: 10/20/2014 by Bonnie Pega | with 2 comment(s)
One day....In the mean time, I can pass on some interesting facts about Holland.
11/10/2014 12:08:08 PM

Deborah Pridgen
I thought you were planning a trip to Holland.
10/30/2014 4:56:37 PM

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