There is something quite cliched about tulips and Amsterdam. I was travelling in the Netherlands in spring and felt compelled to see at least one spring flower display. Visitors flying into Amsterdam can catch a glimpse of the famous bulbfields from the air in spring but nothing quite prepares you for the riot of colour at the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Southern Holland.
Keukenhof has a rich horticultural history and dates back to the 15th century when Jacqueline of Bavaria gathered vegetables and fruits from the gardens for Teylingen Castle’s kitchens. in 1641 Keukenhof Castle was built and the grounds grew to 200 hectares. In 1949 leading bulb growers in Holland developed the concept of displaying flowers in the gardens. The idea grew and was an instant success. Today, there are displays of 7 million flowering bulbs from over 100 growers, and Keukenhof welcomes thousands of visitors each spring.
I booked online to secure my ticket as the gardens get crowded, and then caught the connecting bus from Schiphol Airport to the Keukenhof Gardens. There were lots of groups, buses carrying people, and folks on a day out all wanting to converge on the gardens. Initially I felt I had made one big mistake coming here but I continued passed selfie obsessed people taking shots of themselves in a car park and got through the gate.
What a transformation. Walking through the turnstile and into the Keukenhof Gardens felt like entering Narnia or some other fantasy world. Blazes of yellow and red tulips lined paths, appearing like floral flames but their colours were so vibrant they lit up the heart. There were beds of blue, pink, red, and white flowers surrounded by immaculately manicured lawns. of course these displays were magnets for the selfie stick loving crowd but I wandered on in my own time, taking in the brilliance of the colour combinations. The shades of pink ranged from a pulsating vibrant bright hue to the most delicate of swatches, but each being set in a display to inspire. Already my garden was beginning to shape up for bulb planting as I imagined how the various palettes would look.
In the centre of the garden was a magnificent floral river. Waving through the trees and lawns, a stretch of brilliant blue muscari edged a sea of tulips in many colours, It was inspirational with its design. I traced the path walking through the gardens and it led to other corners where even more wonderful displays had been created. I discovered pots with unusual color combinations, bulb catalogues designed to make me max out the credit card, and despite the crowds, peaceful places to sit and enjoy the flowers at their finest.
Springtime in Holland is famous so a visit to Keukenhof to see the displays of flowers is a must. Book online, go early to escape the crowds, and enjoy the heartwarming and inspirational colors.
Keukenhof Gardens are open from late March to early May each year. 2019 is the 70th anniversary of the gardens and their spring flower display.