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Tulips and Holland, in China!

As a Full Time Landscape photographer from the Netherlands I have been photographing tulips for more than a decade in my homeland. I’ve captured them from every possible angle: From the ground, from drones, from planes, extreme close ups, cats & birds in the tulip fields, spectacular cloud formations and thunderstorms. So recently I asked myself: what next?


And just at that time, the World Tulip Society, an international network of tulips parks and festivals, contacted me with the direct answer to that question: They asked me if I wanted to photograph tulips outside of the Netherlands. Because there are many countries around the world with tulips. Some imported, some native. The idea here is to show the beautiful tulips in different parts of the world and how they evoke happiness wherever they bloom. I recently photographed the tulips in the beautiful Filoli Garden near San Francisco and the next stop was Yancheng, China to visit the Holland Flower Park. That’s right, a Holland themed flower park in China. The reason for this theme is because 100 years ago a Dutch water engineer supported the local community in creating arable lands, on which nowadays millions of tulips are showcased for the public to enjoy!


So after some quick arrangements were made I found myself on a flight to China followed by a 4 hour drive to the Holland Flower Park. When we got close to the park I started to see windmills and buildings that actually look like my homeland. In fact: I didn’t even see a single tulip yet but everything looked quite Dutch already. I literally travelled to the other side of the world to see a copy of my homeland. Close to arriving we were driving past windmills and dutch styled houses. In fact, the flower park is situated right next to Holland Village. Everything was called ‘Holland’ and the Chinese do not joke around. The thirst thing I saw was a building that looked like an exact replica of Amsterdam Central Station.


Honestly, I was shocked at how awesome this all was. It was like coming back ‘home’ when arriving to the other side of the world. Even the temperature was the same, and it was raining. How Dutch! But of course, I was mainly there for the flower park. I really did not expect the ‘bonus' of a whole Dutch village though.


I spent the next days exploring the park, capturing all its beauty. People that know me know I love flowers and tulips, so I was completely in my element. Here is the complete photo series from the spectacular Dafeng Flower Park along with the photo story. 


This photo series was made in collaboration with the Dafeng Flower Park & the World Tulip Society. 


Tulips in China

Part of the park as seen by drone.  You can see the Dutch buildings as a backdrop and the windmill in the foreground. All the lines of flowers carefully planted, in beautiful patterns which looks really spectacular from the sky!


Tulips in China

From high up in the sky to close ups, I spent days capturing all kinds of different angles. The variety of tulips impressed me. So many different kind of tulips, and they were often mixed with other flowers.

 


Holland Flower Park Dafeng China


You can see the Chinese went to great lengths to replicate the Dutch atmosphere. If I wouldn’t tell you this was China, you probably thought this would be a small Dutch village on the countryside 


Holland Village in Dafeng China

Not just inside of the park, but outside of the park they built a whole Dutch village called Holland Village, including shops, restaurants, church towers, and even a cinema. Super impressive!


Tulips in China

The long curvy rows of tulip look spectacular from the ground. When I visited most of the park was as it’s best regarding the tulip bloom with very similar timing than in the Netherlands. The climate around Dafeng is quite similar to that of the Netherlands in Spring. It can get a little bit warmer, but the tulips come out kind of around the same time: Half April. 


Tulips and windmill in China

Of course they had a real windmill in the park. It’s funny that as a photographer we always try to find that perfect photo of a beautiful tulip field with a windmill in the background. This is different each year as the fields are always slightly different. In Dafeng they know what people want, and they just put the windmill right there where people want it :) The paint is a little over the top for me, but awesome nonetheless.  


Tulips in China
Tulips in China

When you spend a long time in a such park, you start to notice all the little details and ‘hidden’ corners, like the photos above. They kind of remind me of movies like the hobbit and Lord of the Rings, which they are probably inspired by. 


Holland Flower Park Dafeng China

Tulips in China

Of course I took the macro lens and sometimes went extremely close. Here we see a dew drop on the bottom of a tulip reflecting the tulips around. The photo was flipped upside down, making it look like a glass ball.  


Holland Flower Park Dafeng China

Holland Flower Park Dafeng China

Every day the park was extremely crowded with people enjoying the blooming tulips. It’s always so nice to see how (dutch) flowers around the world spread happiness.


tulips in china
tulips in china


tulips in china


I found so many little places in the park that caught my eye. Fun fact: The Chinese know that I like fog! Ha, they are way ahead of us photographers. They use big water humidifiers in a lot of places, spraying water. Not sure if these are actually meant for photos, but I used them to my advantage. They were actually spraying the tulips around them to keep them wet, especially during the warmer days.


Holland Village Dafeng China

 A crazy replica of the Amsterdam Station, with lighting and everything. Very impressive. When I posted this on my social media, some people thought it was the real thing.


Not only the buildings outside of the village were very similar to the Netherlands. Inside as well. All the buildings looked just like the houses at Zaanse Schans, Volendam or Marken Village. The typical Dutch cute houses. And then of course the windmills. And the Chinese like to go over the top a bit. There were ‘casual’ windmills, but also really Chinese Styled windmills, with tulips or van Gogh paintings on them. And these were not just ‘mockups’. No, they were real buildings. Especially the ‘Haarlem Church’ was beautiful lit at night. As you can see, I framed this church in quite some shots. It was a beautiful landmark as a backdrop.

 

Holland Village Dafeng China

The church building, beautifully lit during the evening. Some of the Dutch landmark’s lighting can really learn from the Chinese. The lighting on this was spectacular. As you can see, this building was inspired by the looks of the beautiful Dutch churches.


Tulips in Dafeng China
Tulips in Dafeng China

Lines of tulips carefully planted in combination with interesting landmarks or even blossoming trees. A true explosion of colour!    



Tulips in Dafeng China
Tulips in Dafeng China

Tulips in Dafeng China

The variety of tulips planted in combination with greenery and different flowers created some beautiful harmonious color palettes that attracted many people (including myself) to take many photos, and selfies! 


Tulips in Dafeng China

While most of the park was covered by tulips, there were also quite some other flowers. I went out during early mornings a few times to capture the dew drops on the little ones.


Now you may wonder what the scale of the park is. For people that have been to Keukenhof in the Netherlands: the scale is kind of similar. It’s definitely quite a big park, with some parts with rows and rows of colourful tulips, and other parts with smaller details. I tried to capture a combination of everything in these photo series.     


Holland Flower Park Dafeng China


Holland Flower Park Dafeng China
Holland Flower Park Dafeng China

Holland Flower Park Dafeng China
Holland Flower Park Dafeng China

Various top down shots of the park. I was so happy I brought my drone because the park looked absolutely stunning from above.  


Holland Flower Park Dafeng China

Holland Flower Park Dafeng China

People from around the area enjoying the flowers. The Chinese often dress up with beautiful dresses and flower crowns to take photos of each other.   


Holland Flower Park Dafeng China

Holland Flower Park Dafeng China

Holland Flower Park Dafeng China

In evening times most people left, but the park is still very beautiful, with a lot of nice lights and details on the buildings.


To close this series:


I am amazed that a place like this exists. And I can see why. It was super crowded every day, even during the weekdays. The park always looked spectacular. When I was getting up on some early mornings to photograph the park without people, there were always people working, preparing the the garden for the new day. They had sprinklers installed everywhere to ensure the lifespan of the tulips. Chinese come from all around the area to see these gardens. If you are Chinese and you didn’t know about this place, I highly recommend to visit (or anyone for that matter). It’s really amazing. And yeah, lots of Chinese visit the Netherlands every year to come to Keukenhof. But actually, they can just stay in their own country and come to Dafeng! Just kidding, it’s not really the same of course, but it comes pretty close :) One thing though: I couldn’t find stroopwafels!


The Dafeng Flower Park is open all year around, but the peak season is spring for its tulips, and in fall with lilies. And this is of no surprise as its absolutely beautiful. 


Some facts about the park:


  • Located about 2h by train from Shanghai to Dafeng.

  • First opened to public in 2012.

  • Draws over 2 million visitors each year, concentrated around the tulip season and national holidays

  • Interestingly enough doesn’t have ‘western’ social media like Instagram and Facebook. Promotion is entirely focused on Chinese through mainly WeChat.


for more info, check the Holland Flower Park website.


Can’t wait to visit more places around the world to photograph tulips!


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