Everyone has his or her favorite season. Some love the fall with the beautiful turning colors of leaves and the cool briskness of the nights after a hot summer.
Others love the winter with colder temperatures and the childlike excitement of snow and the adventures it can bring. Still others love the summer with the warmth of the sun and long days for fun outdoor activities—swimming and cooking out.
But for me, my favorite season has been a toss up between spring and summer.
I have always loved the warm weather of summertime and I have often said that I would take even a 100-degree day over a 20-degree day any day of the year. Growing up, I’m sure I was like most other children who grew to love summer as it brought the end of the school year and the freedom of summer pleasures. And I have confirmed this love for warm weather even in the cars I drive owning two different sporty convertibles.
Springtime has also always been special to me as it brings to a close, the end of winter, my least favorite season. The shortcomings of spring for me have been that it still retains vestiges of the dead of winter—bare, leafless trees and brown grass yards. But it has been a growing appreciation for colorful and fragrant blooming flowers that has swayed me towards loving spring.
For someone who is constantly busy, it can easily be said that for a large part of my life, I have failed to “stop and smell the roses.” But it was a trip to Hawaii in 1998 that really brought my attention to focus on the colorful flowers that were in bloom almost everywhere we looked.
My favorite flower from this trip was by far, the Bird of Paradise. Its unique shape and intense colorful contrast of purple and orange made we want to grow some of my own even though I knew I lived in a climate that would make it impossible for them to grow.
So I did the next best thing, buying silk flower Bird of Paradise and placing them in a pot by the front door as a daily reminder of the wonderful trip and the beautiful flower from the island.
My love for flowers and springtime blossomed even more as I began to make yearly trips to Amsterdam. I longed to see the fields of flowers so often seen in Holland calendars.
Aalsmeer in Holland is the flower capital of the world and although I have not actually been there, evidence of Holland being home to the flower capital is evident in every city in Holland.
My first exposure to the expansive floral variety that the Dutch had to offer was in walking through the flower market (Bloemenmarkt). No matter what time of year I happened to be in Amsterdam, spring, summer, fall, or winter, the market was always filled with unique and exotic blooms, even the Bird of Paradise that was my first floral love.
The tulip, undoubtedly the most recognizable signature flower of the Netherlands, features prominent in the market in a variety of colors and shapes. On more than one occasion, I have brought back tulip bulbs for growing in my own home but have met with mixed success given the unpredictable Memphis winters we have.
One bulb I have been successful in bringing back is the Amaryllis. I could not believe the size of the ones available in the Flower Market, which produced immense blooms.
Over the years, I have brought back several different colors and have been amazed by their size and beauty. These bulbs have proven most hardy since after the first year of growing them indoors, I transplanted them to our flowerbed. And every year, they have faithfully re-bloomed in all their previous glory.
My first exposure to flowers on a larger scale outside Amsterdam came in 2002 when during my annual trip to Amsterdam; I took in Floriade—the decennial event held in different locales within Holland every ten years.
Unfortunately, being there over Memorial Day weekend, I missed most of the flowers since they had peaked several weeks before my trip.
Undeterred, I sought out other options for future visits that would give me the large-scale floral experience I sought. What I found was the grand slam of flower displays in Holland, Keukenhof, a place so beautiful that it demands a story all by itself.