Pandemic puts tulips, bluebells, cherry blossoms in hiding - GulfToday

Pandemic puts tulips, bluebells, cherry blossoms in hiding

tulip 1

People visit RoozenGaarde display garden during the Skagit Valley tulip festival. AFP

Gulf Today Report

There is no stopping flowers when they bloom, blossoms when they burst. Unfortunately, people have been stopped from enjoying them these days.

In pandemic times, when so much goes against the grain, some beauties of nature are no longer embraced but kept at bay.

bluebells 1 The sun rises between the trees as bluebells bloom on the forest floor of the Hallerbos in Halle, Belgium. AFP

From Japan's cherry blossom trees, to the endless Keukenhof tulip fields in the Netherlands, to the riot of purple bluebells in the Hallerbos south of Brussels, everything looks its best this spring when conditions are at its worst.

"The flowers are there. Nature refuses to be stopped by anyone," said Halle mayor Marc Snoeck, who for the second year in a row needs to keep people away from the municipality's famed woods instead of inviting them in.

tulip 2 People visit RoozenGaarde display garden in Mount Vernon, Washington, U.S. File/AFP

Across the world, authorities are seeking to stave off a new surge of COVID-19 infections to contain a death toll which already exceeds 3 million. Crowds are anathema to health. Yet at the same time, the soothing glories of nature are said to be an ideal balm against the psychological burdens of loneliness, disorientation and fear that the pandemic has wrought.

Normally, more than 100,000 visitors spread over three weekends come to gaze at Halle’s fields of purple. Last spring, when Europe was already grappling with the first surge of infections, Snoeck already closed off the woods as much as possible, according to Associated Press.

blossom 222 The Cherry Alley blooms at Bispebjerg Cemetery in Copenhagen. AFP

Since it is an open forest, a full ban is out of the question, so Snoeck has canceled special bus shuttles, and issued parking bans to discourage people from coming.

For the Keukenhof tulip fields 300 milometers (180 miles) north of Halle though, the tulip fields are very much a man-made creation with planting starting already in September. Two years ago, 1.5 million people visit in its eight-week run, but now, it took a special anti-virus pilot scheme to  allow just a few thousands in on the rescheduled opening day.

tulip 3 A woman poses for a photo at a tulip field near Grevenbroich. AFP

The lack of mass tourism flocking to the Hallerbos will have its beneficial side too. Any flower that gets trampled won't reshoot the year after, Snoeck said. So once the pandemic is contained, the bluebell fields might even look better.

"Fewer visitors will make nature even more beautiful," Snoeck said.

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