At the beginning of April we travelled to The Netherlands to visit Keukenhof, the celebrated garden where over 7m bulbs are planted each year, much to the joy of over 1m visitors.
This year’s 8-week window of colour and glory has just finished, and granted our visited was a little early to allow us to witness the fields of plenty, full of stripes of bulbs (the early May trips were already fully booked).
It takes about 4 hours to see the gardens of Keukenhof. The gardens are filled with beds of tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinths and narcissi, not to mention the orchid tent.
They are wonderful and I’ll happily return to The Netherlands again to see the bulbs, Keukenhof, and the other delightful places we visited: Delft & Amsterdam.
Plus, everyone speaks English and while I am generally someone who endeavours to speak the lingo (I speak Italian and French), it makes for a stress-free holiday to know I won’t encounter a language barrier. I’ll definitely make use of the direct London-Amsterdam Eurostar that is due to start running next year (the only snag is that on the way back it’s necessary to get off in Brussels for a check at customs, but heck, that gives me an excuse to stay in Belgium for the night!)
In 1949 a group of 20 flower bulb exporters came up with a plan to use the estate for a permanent exhibition of spring-flowering bulbs, signaling the birth of Keukenhof as a spring park.
The park opened its gates to the public in 1950, with 236,000 visitors in the first year alone.
Today, the exhibition is a stage for the Dutch bulb growing industry, and what a stage it is. It doesn’t fail to inspire.
The only disappointment I encountered was that there wasn’t anywhere to order the bulbs on show, not at least that I found. The only stores were filled with tourist gifts, and a single market-stall-type shed near the coach park was the only place selling flowers or bulbs. I couldn’t help thinking they were missing a trick.
I shall have to therefore hold on to my inspiration to plant more bulbs for next year and remind myself to order my bulbs in time!
Beyond the formal gardens of Keukenhof, it seems that almost every other field was full of plump tulip flowers, ready to burst. For us, only the eager little red riding hoods had donned their caps that early in April.
I couldn’t help thinking about how many times this bulb grower had brought his son and now perhaps his grandson with him when he came out to check his tulips were flowering, growing fatter for the years to come, until they are ready to dig up and sell to those with greedy eyes, just like me and everyone like me since tulipmania started in the 17th century.
When visited: April 2016