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Tulip Time in the Old World:The Keukenhof

Tulips in the Netherlands
Bursting with tulips

by Kate Dernocoeur, Guest Blogger

Keukenhof, Holland: the gardens that inspire tourists worldwide to journey to The Netherlands each year in spring. The gardens are only open eight weeks each year, and during that time, if my visit was any indication, hordes of people come to enjoy them.

My hosts for our day at Keukenhof (which translates to mean “kitchen garden,” which is why you wouldn’t want to say “Keukenhof Gardens”) were my future son-in-law (yes, they are engaged!) and his father, his partner, and her three-year-old grand-daughter, Amira. It made for a lively and fun party.

Tulip Time in the Netherlands
Happy time

We entered via the overflow parking entrance onto an island bisected frequently by small water channels, which gave it a distinctly Dutch feel. Bed after bed of flowers—tulips, of course, but also hyacinths, lilies, and other flowers as well—greeted us. Along the path, we encountered a building where an orchid display was underway.

Keukenhof, Netherlands, tulips
Visiting the Keukenhof Gardens is a visual treat

After that we wandered up to the operational windmill, and climbed up to the second level for the view across to commercial fields of multi-hued lanes of flowers. Then over to more traditional English garden area, with a petting zoo along the way, and a small all-blue garden celebrating all things Delft.

Tulips at Keukenhof , The Netherlands
What fun to enjoy all things Delft at Keukenhof

The gardens were part of the estate known as Keukenhof Castle, built in 1641. Prior to that, according to the garden website, Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria (1401 – 1436) gathered fruit and vegetables from the nearby woods and dunes for her castle kitchen.

The gardens were redesigned in 1857 by a father-son team of landscape architects (Jan David and Louis Paul Zocher) in the English style, and after the war, in 1949, twenty bulb exporters proposed using the estate for a permanent exhibit.

With its opening in 1950, the park was an instant success. Nowadays, the flowers come mostly from 100 companies that participate to show their living catalogue of flowers.After browsing the crazy-quilt rose display in a central building (including rainbow roses!) and a welcome hot cup of tea, we came across more of the banquet of color in a quieter corner of the park.

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Keukenhof, Netherlands
Enjoying the flowers at the Keukenhof

There, we watched a photo shoot for a bridal party—the gardens were the perfect happy backdrop. We made our way, at last, to the center of the park where the map showed what seemed to be seven giant greenhouses, but it turned out they were all one immense open room, filled with flowerbeds! Tulips like you’ve never imagined them, with all manner of names. Some reminded me of friends and family: Russell, Maureen, Uncle Tom. The brown sugar tulips looked good enough to eat.

Keukenhof, The Netherlands, tulips
Flowers that look good enough to eat.

Keukenhof is where the Dutch proudly display the best of its floricultural sector—specializing, not surprisingly, in Dutch flower bulbs. Imagine seven million spring-flowering bulbs! It was astounding—and the meandering pathways and sometimes whimsical presentations kept our interest high. Although we were not there for the annual flower parade, judging by the website photos, it rivals the American Rose Bowl parade.

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Keukenhof, Netherlands
Enjoying the flowers at Keukenhof, Netherlands

See more at: http://www.keukenhof.nl/en

 

GW.050916.10Kate Dernocoeur traveled to Europe recently to visit her daughter, who was working at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and her now-fiancé (!), Gio, born and raised in The Hague. He and his family made her feel very welcome. She lives in Lowell when she isn’t off on one adventure or another.  She can be found on her bi-weekly blog: Generally Write. 

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

Comments

2 Comments
  1. posted by
    Margaret Idema
    May 16, 2016 Reply

    Hi Kate, what a rainbow of colors…nice article and great photos!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      May 16, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Margaret. I agree. Great blog post by Kate. Perfect timing since May is Tulip Time here in Western Michigan.

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