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Volume 28, Number 3May/June 1977

In This Issue

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A Dutch Treat

Photographed by Tor Eigeland

Some 300 years ago the Dutch began to go wild over tulips (See previous story). Today they still grow them by the millions.

Tor Eigeland, who lives in Spain and free-lances for such publications as National Geographic, International Wildlife and Smithsonian magazine, photographed the fields and flowers on these pages along Holland's sandy, wind-swept North Sea coast between The Hague, Leiden and Haarlem and at Keukenh of gardens, showplace of Dutch bulb-growers, near Lisse. Tulips bloom in the Netherlands between mid-March and mid-May peaking sometime around the middle of that period, depending on how long winter lingers.

At Keukenhof (the name, dating from the 15th century, means "kitchen garden") over 800,000 visitors stroll each spring beside canals, a lake and a windmill, through wooded parks and vast greenhouses to admire outdoor sculpture, swans and, of course, the flowers; flowers everywhere, especially tulips in every shape, pattern and color.

There are some six million blossoms on display in all - the choicest specimens of Holland's glowing yearly bounty.

The Perfect Tulip:

In the West

Dr. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary 6th edition 1785

• It should have a tall stem.

• The flower should consist of six leaves, three within, and three without, the former being larger than the latter.

• Their bottom should be proportioned to their top; their upper part should be rounded off, and not terminated in a point.

• The leaves when opened should neither turn inward nor bend outward, but rather stand erect; the flower should be of a middling size, neither over-large nor too small.

• The stripes should be small and regular, arising quite from the bottom of the flower. The chives {stamens) should not be yellow but of a brown color.

In the East

"A Treatise on Tulips" Dervish Sheikh 1801

• The petals should be stiff and smooth and of one color.

• The six petals should be of one size and equal in length.

• They should touch one another.

• The inner petals should be thinner than the outer.

• They should conceal the stamens, and the pistil should just be visible.

• The flower should stand erect.

—Caroline Stone

This article appeared on pages 6-11 of the May/June 1977 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.


Check the Public Affairs Digital Image Archive for May/June 1977 images.