First Bulgarian-Dutch Serdika tulips in blossom

On a chilly day in late November, just before the Bulgarian winter truly set in, three ladies planted some special tulips in the park next to the parliament in the centre of Sofia. Since last week, the citizens of Sofia can enjoy the blossoming of this friendship tulip, called the Serdika. The tulip signifies the lasting friendship and partnership between the Netherlands and Bulgaria. It was developed as a gift to Bulgaria for the occasion of 110 years of diplomatic relations which the two countries celebrated in 2019.

Serdika Tulip

The Ligthart flower growers in Den Helder developed the tulip and registered it upon request of the embassy in Sofia. “I wanted the tulip to represent the colours of the Bulgarian flag. Luckily it is not too difficult to make a tulip in white, green and red” – recalls ambassador Bea ten Tusscher.

“The name however was a bit more challenging: the Royal General Bulb Growers' Association keeps meticulous track of all breeds of tulips and they have strict guidelines. We named it Serdika, after the ancient Roman name of the city of Sofia. It alludes to the long European history which we share with Bulgaria. This history lies the foundation for our relation as family members in the EU and allies in NATO.”

Already last year, Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Stef Blok symbolically gave the tulip as a diplomatic gift to vice prime minister and minister of Foreign Affairs Ms Ekaterina Zaharieva during his working visit to Sofia on June 6th. However, in keeping with the seasons, the actual planting of the tulip had to wait until that cold November morning, when minister Zaharieva, mayor of Sofia Mrs Yordana Fandakova and ambassador Ten Tusscher planted the tulip in the newly renovated park between parliament and the University of Sofia.

Serdika Tulip and Alexander Nevski Cathedral

Now that winter has finally given way to beautiful spring weather, the result of their work is there for all to see. “I’m happy that the tulips can finally be enjoyed by the citizens of Sofia. It feels like a fortunate stroke of luck that just as the Serdika tulips are blossoming, the Bulgarian government decided to reopen the parks on April 27th – King’s Day, the national day of the Netherlands.”

And for those who would like to have their own Serdika tulips a bit closer to home, there is good news. Ambassador Ten Tusscher: “Our friends at Ligthart Bloembollen ensured us that there are still plenty more bulbs in stock and available for purchase.“