The flower market is in full swing by the time we get there, and the fragrance, ever-changing and never subtle, overwhelms us. Tulip bouquets waggle in the September breeze. By the Singel Canal, we storm through endless waves of yellow, pink, red, vibrant shades of colour for the growing autumn. Vanda orchids are tied to poles and tent frames, and their long white fingers of roots trickle down.
Countless bulbs on either side, boxed by colour and species, cascade down the sides of the market: from black and violent to sheer white. Next to them, symbols of what the bulbs could be are pinned. Crimson tulips peek out of white boxes, lips parted.
The pathways become ever more erratic and imperceptible. There is a sea of boundless white and pink orchids forming among our feet, lapping at the shore of the pavement, with no discernible path to use. Sunlit sunflowers nod in front of comical, psychedelic fuly-blossomed red Achilleas. Fuschia honeysuckles tickle against the table tops, with the tubular Abelia floribundas – luminous pink tubes – taking full stage. Chinese lanterns hang loosely, mostly red and yellow but some vivid purple, with pink stems. Occasional flashes of azure are serene among the chaos.
In one tent, I escape the rainforest of colour to find a breathtaking green. Ivy, herbs, spruce, cacti, all blend together, in a haze of shimmering emerald and brilliant shamrock. And still potted plant after potted plant, upright, stacked, sideways, tiny and tall, simple and voluptuous. I stop and hesitate in a maze of life. Somehow, a year-round Christmas shop attracts me in, and I escape the kaleidoscope into a mossy green cavern of twinkling ornaments, jingling carols, stars.