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Coast and Country: Celebrating the arrival of spring!

The arrival of meteorological spring last week might well have gone unnoticed thanks to the snow, but already the weather is improving and with Mother's Day coming up this weekend there's never been a better time to talk flowers! But the next time you pick up a bunch of your favourite blooms from your local florist or supermarket... just wonder at the journey they've been on to get there! Take these tulips...

.......their journey starts some 500 miles away, in the iconic tulip fields of Amsterdam. Every spring vast swathes of Holland are transformed into a sea of colour! Crocuses begin the season, followed by daffodils, hyacinths and then tulips!

Tulip fields in Amsterdam

But the demand for Dutch blooms is so strong that work on supplying them starts extra early! In Heemskerk, an area northwest of Amsterdam the fields are farmed by a network of independent flower growers. The Duin Family have farmed here for generations, and they love what they do! Every bulb is hand planted and every bud is carefully nurtured!

Corina Duin talks with such passion about her flowers

Sometimes nature needs a little helping hand and to meet the early demand for tulips a greenhouse on rails is gradually moved over different parts of the field to encourage the flowers to bloom sooner! The flowers are only harvested when the Duins are sure they are absolutely ready!

A greenhouse one wheels moves across the field

The flowers are picked by hand twice a day. According to Corina a tulip is ready to picked when you can hear it crackling!

Hand picking tulips

Once picked the bulbs are removed so that the blooms are clean and tidy. but did you know the bulbs are recycled....

Corina explains how the bulbs are removed

And then the flowers are put into bunches - 10 per bunch!

Bunched and ready to go!

Ready to go... the tulips leave the quiet of the countryside and are sent to one of the famous Dutch Flower Auctions. My journey brings me to the Royal Floral Holland in Aalsmeer. Its the largest trading centre for plants and flowers in the world, and the scale of it is mind boggling!

Flowers as far as the eye can see!

The site itself covers half a million square metres, and over 37 million flowers are sold here every day! The flowers arrive by night, and in the early hours of each morning they are bought by buyers from all over the world. My next stop on my Dutch adventure is Rijnsburg, in South Holland, where flowers which have been bought from the auction are stored in temperature controlled warehouses.... The wholesalers here will supply florists in Wales!

Flowers stored in a cold warehouse

The buds are then boxed up and loaded onto the back of the lorry, to make their overnight journey to Wales.

Loaded onto the back of a lorry

At 5 o clock in the morning PJS Flowers in Cardiff is opening it's doors to florists eager to get their hands on the blooms which have arrived overnight. Kelly and Sarah are here early most days to pick up stock for their stall in Cardiff Market. They need to make sure they have all they need to make up their orders, and passing trade!

Sara and Kelly from Secret Garden Flower stall

It's then back to Cardiff Market with their blooms to make sure they are ready and set up for the day!

Setting up shop

And that's it! Doors open, and at 9am the flowers are ready for their final journey.... to a vase in someone's home! What a journey it has been! Lets us brighten your evening.. Coast and Country tonight at 8pm!