Anyone who has ever been lucky enough to visit Amsterdam can attest to its beauty. The purpose of my recent visit, under the auspices of the International Bulb Centre, was to visit gardens throughout Holland filled with spring blooming bulbs.
On my last afternoon before leaving, I finally had some time to myself and quickly caught a train to Amsterdam. Once I stumbled into the flower market area, what can I say except that I was ‘hooked’? The first stall that hit me in the face was filled with flowers, dozens and dozens of ready to burst open tulips. The cost? 5 dozen for 12.50 Euro…about $17.
Call me sentimental, romantic or whatever. It’s fair game. After all, there are a large number of outstanding flower markets, let alone some great farmers’ markets filled with a plethora of flower/plant stalls throughout the world. But I gotta tell you, there’s just something about Amsterdam’s flower market.
Perhaps it’s the overwhelming amount and choices of bulbs in every store, more than is possible to imagine: dahlias, tulips, narcissus, liliums, colocasias and amaryllis, amaryllis and more amaryllis. When visiting Keukenhoff, I couldn’t resist buying 2 deep, blood red amaryllis. I could already picture them in my rooftop garden. Alas, I ended up giving them to two colleagues from Sweden. I didn’t want to take the chance of getting stopped at customs returning to Israel. When I mentioned this to the owner of the nursery where I buy my plants in Israel, he laughed and said to me: “Don’t you know that a large number of the amaryllis sold in Holland are imported from Israel?” So much for my romantic notions.
I am a shopper who gets easily overwhelmed. So I took it slow, entering each shop, looking at not only the plant material but all of the ‘tchotkes’. I gazed and marveled at the products, people and energy that were swirling about. After my first spin around, I wanted to see more. I felt like I was on a slow moving merry ground. I couldn’t get enough.
When I saw an elderly, dapper gentleman looking at the crates of annuals and herbs outside of one store, I was tempted to take a picture but decided against it. As I checked out the annuals and herbs, my heart did some flips. Back in Israel, I’m able to get alot of this plant material. But let’s face it, none of the plants, even those that can survive in a Mediterranean climate, will ever look the same in my garden as they do at Amsterdam’s flower market.
Would the flower market be as outstanding if it wasn’t set in this city of bridges, rivers, people strolling and bicycles. As an urban bike rider, this scene brought a huge smile to my face. Whimsy, nature, flowers, romance, beauty, history….a breathing tapestry, all in a square block of Amsterdam. What could be more beautiful!
If there are any flower markets that you’ve visited that have left an impact on you, tell us about it. And link back to your blog if you have photos you want to share with us.