Its been absolutely years since we last visited Monbulk for Tesselaar’s Tulip Festival. Located in the Dandenong hills about an hours drive from Melbourne, it is a great days out. I don’t know why we haven’t been back for so long. It seems to have fallen off my radar until we heard it on the radio a few weeks back.
So, on a beautiful sunny afternoon, we decided to take advantage of the weather and visited the festival on its opening weekend. We did take the risk of not seeing as many flowers but thought Melbourne’s fickle weather might mean we may not get another chance before the festival ends. (It only runs over four weeks) And besides, with 700,000 bulbs planted, it was worth the risk.
As it turns out, we were half right. There were rows and rows of stunning tulips but equally there were plenty of rows that were yet to flower. But we still enjoyed it tremendously to be among such delicate flowers.
We were also treated to a showcase of Turkish culture on the opening weekend. There were performances, music, dances and Turkish food stalls. We seriously wondered what’s the connection? Tulips and Turkey? Don’t tulips come from Holland?
Well, as we learnt quickly, tulips did not originate from Holland. In fact, they were actually brought to Holland from Turkey! The botanical name Tulipa is actually derived from the Turkish word “turban”. Many varieties of tulips were grown in Turkey long before they became popular in European gardens. The first tulip-mania started in Turkey in the 1500’s during Ottoman Empire. During this time it reigned supreme as the King of Bulbs. The first tulip festival was also in Turkey.
So, when we left later that afternoon, after enjoying a relaxing day among these beautiful flowers, we were well and truly educated as well. Who would have guessed . . . Tulips and Turkey!
But I still treated myself to one of my favourite pancakes – Dutch Poffertjes. I love these mini pancakes and can never resist when I see them on sale anywhere in markets. They are great piping hot straight from the pan with maple syrup and icing sugar. Yum!