When a Dutch resident of Taikoo Shing and his new wife were recently presented with an enormous bouquet of tulips at their wedding, the groom inquired jokingly if they had been flown in from the Netherlands. In fact, they were, he was assured. But not especially for the occasion - they had simply been purchased in Quarry Bay from an outlet whose wholesaler, like most in the flowers sector, does a great deal of business with the Netherlands - the world's flower garden. As a result of a miraculously efficient supply-chain network that reaches out across the globe from its hub at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, countless newlyweds, from Amsterdam to Zhuhai, receive Dutch flowers at their nuptials. Wherever those flowers arrive, they are inevitably as fresh as if they had just been snipped from the garden behind the church in which the happy couple is tying the knot. The scale of Dutch flower exports is massive; the country's exports account for two-thirds of the world's total flower exports. The Netherlands leads the world in exports of fresh-cut tulips, daffodils and other flowers to romantics, sweethearts, newlyweds, errant partners seeking redemption, and as many other kinds of customer as there are variety of tulips. Thanks to hothouse technology, the country is able to maintain a steady supply of fresh flowers year round. Because of the highly perishable nature of floral exports, control over the supply management chain is necessarily fastidious, and speed at all points of this chain is imperative. According to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, we import HK$165.4 million of fresh flowers a year, of which HK$22.4 million - or 13.5 per cent - is from the Netherlands. The country is Hong Kong's biggest supplier of flowers after the mainland. Tulips lead in both supply and demand. Vion Chong, manager of Boris & Matthew florists in Sheung Wan, says: 'Ninety per cent of our tulips are from the Netherlands. [This is] not only because they are of a higher quality - actually, the quality of flowers always depends on the season - but because of the huge demand. Our customers only want Dutch tulips. Dutch tulips have a big name.' Dutch flowers can be found all over the city, including Quarry Bay, where Sarah Chu So-luen, manager of Florist Of The Valley, says: 'We have flowers from the Netherlands. They have tulips exported all around the year. Our customers have the perception that Dutch flowers are good, as they saw pictures of the Netherlands. They think that Dutch flowers are of higher class than others.' Moreover, the Netherlands is Hong Kong's biggest supplier of flower bulbs, and these exports amount to HK$13.2 million. In the Netherlands, itself, nowhere is more famous for flower viewing during the April-May flower season than Keukenhof Gardens, an 32-hectare park, located south of the city of Haarlem. Every year, more than 700,000 visitors arrive to enjoy what is possibly the most spectacular single-site floral display in the world. The most iconic of the nation's flowers is the tulip, but it is not an indigenous species. Introduced to Europe in middle of the 16th century from the Ottoman Empire, the distinctive flower took root in the Low Countries when it became a sought after commodity for the aristocracy. Such was the flower's popularity that the next century saw a two-year 'Tulip Bubble' in 1636-37 that affected the economies of cities across the Low Countries. Today, the tulip endures, along with clogs and the windmill, as an icon of the Netherlands. It also provides an unmistakable symbol of Dutch efficiency and the nation's ability to deliver the jet-fresh goods. Above all, it is a botanical beauty whose aesthetic appeal is self-evident, wherever you might be purchasing that bouquet. Indeed, you might not be aware how far it has travelled.