Tulips arrived in the Netherlands in the 1600's, courtesy of the Ottoman Empire. The flower had been wild, cultivated by the Turks as early as 1000 AD. The name recalls the shape of a turban, see http://www.holland.nl/uk/holland/sights/tulips-history.html.
Update 2015: a video on mechanized tulip bulb harvesting in The Netherlands, see http://www.youtube.com/embed/wZ5MAr7d-5Y?rel=0
If possible, time your visit to the Netherlands for tulip time, in May. These fabulous and vast gardens close in July for maintenance and tidying up. Most everything is tulips there, and tulips have a limited bloomsday. See slide show at http://www.keukenhof.nl/. Keukenhof is a public garden -- there since 1949, and now nurtures some 6 million bulbs, says our guidebook. Another book says that some 7 million bulbs bloom each year. Area: 32 hectares. What is that? A hectare is about 2.47 acres, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hectare, So: somewhat less in area than 92 acres?
Keukenhof Gardens, tulips, Lisse, the Netherlands
Even in the rain, the colors are spectacular. Winding, wide walkways, and varieties unimagined.
Arrival in the mist or light rain is fine. A downfall of rain, however, would probably cause the petals to drop. We came almost directly from the airport, in case of heavier rains to come.
Keukenhof. Tulip fields, Lisse, the Netherlands
The choice is to head in another direction, and hope for better weather when you return. Seize the day.
Some tulips are past knee-high, and even reach hip-height. Some were up to Dan's waist in some areas. Long, long stems. See http://www/europeforvisitors.com/europe/articles/keukenhof_gardens.
There are well-spaced and spacious rest areas in the gardens, with food, facilities, but note where you came in. It is easy to get lost. This is a really big place. It was once the hunting grounds of the Teylingen Estate, see 15th Century Countess Jacqueline of Wittelsbach at http://www.keukenhof.nl/images/fck/File/KKH,%20sixty%20years%20as%20the%20paragon%20of%20beauty.pdf