The Andre Rieu Tulip
                                     by Ineke Cornelissen/Sonja

This morning Ruud and I drove two hours to the city of Den Helder for a sightseeing tour,
in a small plane, over the bulb fields of the province of North Holland. And in the afternoon
we had an appointment with the botanist who developed the André Rieu tulips.

Den Helder has a small airport. Den Helder is the home the Netherlands main naval base..

(The Dutch word for Airport is Vliegveld,               (Ineke getting ready to hop in the
but as you can see the Dutch are very                    four seat Cessna. )
English oriented.   I guess they speak a
lot of English in the air industry.)

We took off in a four seat plane. The weather was sunny and clear, so we were able to see far!  We saw miniature
houses, cars, cows in the meadows, farms and what we came for, the colored bulb fields in straight lines, villages,
the North Sea coast, etc. It was great. I took a lot of pictures and I tried to find the bulb nursery we were going to visit
later on, looking for a field of purple tulips……. And really! I found them and was able to take a picture!!  

In the Netherlands summer started very early this year and many of bulb fields had already been “decapitated” (by a
machine which cuts off the flower heads).   Growers do this, to prevent the tulips from going to seed.  Growers are
not interested in the flowers, they want the tulips to put their energy in multiplying their bulbs.  To raise a tulip from
seed takes five to seven years.   Multiplying bulbs goes faster!   And to sell the tulip bulbs all the energy also has to
go into the bulb so they will flower well the following year.  So tulips are beheaded before they finish blooming.

At the weekend with the Rieu girlzzz we had a lot of fun. They kept teasing me, saying: “O, next week you can take
pictures of green stalks in the fields, for we are sure the growers already “beheaded” André, and you can sit in your
orange outfit besides the purple heap of trash, mourning for your picture”….  I felt doubtful, for indeed, as a result of
the early summer, lots of bulbs already finished flowering, so maybe we would be too late!! I was prepared for the
worse!  We are very lucky that Andre is a late bloomer!!!

In the afternoon we found our grower (Jan Ligthart in the village of Breezand). His wife José welcomed us and
showed us where we could find her husband. He was at work in his “delivery room for newly cultivated tulips” (in the
open air on the field). He was interbreeding. This means he was rubbing one tulip’s
stamen on another tulip’s pistil, trying to obtain a brand new variety of tulip. In the
“tulip delivery room” he was growing many different experiments.   The most
successful ones were marked with a blue ribbon, a sign to continue with these
winners.  Jan told us about the profession of bulb cultivator and grower
and his job in the breeding station. From the moment of pollination till the
finished product (being able to sell a new tulip), takes twenty years!!  All that time
he’ll has to invest in time, money, care and space in the field. These experiments
are not beheaded, they have to grow out of seed, so he showed us the blocks with
one year old plants, two years old, three years old, etc. Every year the plants grow
a little bit bigger. After five years they flower for the first time.  Surpise, suprise!  Is the result what he expected??
If not, he has to throw them away. Five years of work is lost and he’ll have to start all over again. Wow, we did not
know that, did you? We now look differently at a bunch of tulips!

But the highlight of the day came at the moment he drove us to the next field, there they were 120.000 André Rieu
tulips!!  There they stood in all their glory!!  Our luck was that André is a late bloomer!!  The horticulturist told us he
had waited for our visit!!  How very nice!!   The next day he was going to start the beheading business. We posed in
the field between the tulips for the pictures. Did you know André has a blue heart? Jan told us Andre’s mother was a
pink tulip! Every new tulip has a family tree or a herd-book like cattle.   The specialty of André's tulip is not only that it
is purple but it has a vertical stripe. (In Holland we have a saying: "Er loopt een streepje door hem"  (He has a stripe
through him)  It means that person is a bit crazy….          )

The André Tulip was cultivated in 1980, and baptized by André himself in 1995.  The first crop of new tulips is for the
export (Jan said: “they pay better”). That is why the Americans can order the André Tulip from the catalog from  Fill in the “search” box “André Rieu Tulip”, and they will appear on your screen. Ten tulips
are about $10. Thirty tulips are about $28. Wow, almost $1 for one bulb.  That is expensive!! (including taxes,
certification and forwarding charges of course). For USA and Japan the bulbs need a health certificate. For Europe
they do not. I mailed the president of Dutch Gardens, Leo van der Vlugt (an American from Dutch origin)  asking him to add the Johann Strauss Tulip to his
assortment or to offer combined packages of AR and JS.  He thought it was a great
idea and promised me to take it in consideration. I understand why Jan preferred
exporting them!  (In Holland we can buy a bunch of 10 tulip flowers for one Euro,
about $1.20)  I asked Jan why we cannot buy them in Holland and Europe, and he
said he did not yet have enough bulbs!  This moment he has 120.000 bulbs on the
field. Half of them will be exported to the USA. (to Dutch Gardens I suppose).
The other half he needs for multiplying the bulbs. Year after year he  multiplies  them.
Jan is a horticulturist, not a mail order firm.  But he offered us the possibility to purchase a certain number of bulbs,
for the European fans as well!  So Ruud and I decided to drive again to Breezand in October 2007 to purchase the
bulbs.  Depending on the orders we get from fans, we buy a certain number of bulbs, and WE shall mail them to you.
So please, inform us if you want to receive the André Rieu bulbs. We don’t know the exact price yet. In October our
                                         house shall be transformed into a temporary bulb mailing office!  (Only for
                                         European fans, without certificates!) Americans can order themselves via the
                                         mentioned internet address.

                                        Next to the André tulip was the bright orange Willem-Alexander tulip. The only tulip I
                                        know with a lovely scent! The bulb developers try to get the perfumed flowers back.
                                       That would be great!! Willem-Alexander is our crown prince and future king.
                                        Because of Queen’s day I posed in between the orange Willem-Alexander field and
                                        smelled the delightful odor. It was very, very ORANGE!

                                       The next day May 1, we visited the “Keukenhof”, together with Gemma and her husband
Nand, Hollands biggest bulb flower park. ( ). There are many purple tulips, but I recognised André
immediately by his stripe!!   

We also went to the exposition of Panorama Tulipland  (Big circle painting of the bulb area around
1950). (By the way: Sue Berry, did you recognise your bumpersticker on Nand and Gemma’s car? You sent me two,
and I gave one to Gemma.)

Inspired by Maggie Worman, who has a few Johann Strauss tulips in her garden (bought in Amsterdam last year) I
got a wonderful idea!  I am going to find a place in my garden, where I want to plant ten André Rieu tulips, as the
strong leader. I am going to surround them by (about) 40 Johann Strauss tulips, as the orchestra members. André is
high and purple, undeniable the boss.  The Orchestra is lower and white/yellow with an orange flame. In my opinion
they are a perfect match, even as tulips!    Don’t you think I always have creative ideas??  You have no garden??
Well, buy a big pot for your patio, terrace or balcony.  I ordered the Johann Strauss tulips at the Keukenhof.  So I
know the nursery who can supply and mail them in October. E-mail:
In the Keukenhof, the minimum order was € 40.  You could order several different types of tulips for that amount.  
Since I just desired just the JS, I could get get about 70 JS bulbs for that amount.  If that is too much, you can share
with another fan (I did that with Gemma Korthoudt from Belgium) or give them your mother in law as a present…. In
case this company asks you the number of the JS Tulip: it is number 9. You know the rules: Order (and pay) now, get
them delivered in October and then plant them as soon as possible.  
Flowering period in April next year. Janny has the nice idea to plant the whole orchestra on Wim’s grave. Wim was
very fond of André’s music, which was played on his funeral as well. We are sure Wim would love that flowering
orchestra specially for him!

Wow, fans, let’s send Sonja our pictures of the flowering André and JSO in April 2008!!!
Andre Rieu tulip field, Andre's tulips
are the row of purple on the left!
Andre Rieu tulip
Ineke between the Andres.  Andre
sure had a good queen's day!!!  
Andre's blue heart and stripe
Would it not be nice if it was
that easy to clone him.  
Tulip breeding station.
Johann Strauss Tulips
Andre in Holland's famous
garden the 'Keukenhof'
Sue's bumpersticker in Belgium
and the Netherlands.
Ineke with the Willem-Alexanders
Dutch Flag with orange
Tulipa Johann Strauss                    
Blushing reddish pink and creamy white water lily-like tulip
with some mottling on the foliage.

Early Spring Flowering
Height: up to 12 inch
Full sun to partial shade
US: Zone 3 - 8
Tulip Andre Rieu
Tall, strong stems with uniquely colored purple blooms with a
blue heart and stripes.

Mid to Late Spring flowering
20 to 22 inches
Full sun to full shade
US. Zone 3-8
Gemma and Nand with a  guide.
The second part of the Andre Tulip
       The Tulip Bulb
Click       here