Is it possible to turn a tulip into a work of art and make a real masterpiece using the flower fields? If you think that the shape, colour and variety of tulips cannot surprise you, it means that you have not yet been to the Keukenhof.
The 32-hectare Dutch Royal Flower Park is home to about 7 million flowers, the lion’s share of which are tulips, there are about a hundred varieties of them. Together with hyacinths, crocuses, daffodils and many others, the tulips make unique bright and colourful ‘carpets’. Amaryllis flowers, lilies, calla lilies, gerberas, chrysanthemums, roses, orchids grow in greenhouses ... Various floral installations are made in the Park, and flower festivals are held.
Once a year ...
As befits a flower garden located far enough from the southern regions, it blooms once a year - in spring. At this time - from late March to late May - the Keukenhof usually welcomes the flower lovers coming from all over the world. We were lucky to be in the Keukenhof in the first half of May and admire the Park in blossom. Although, according to locals, the best time to visit it is the last decade of April when almost all the plants are in bloom.
The Netherlands is the home of tulips, the most beautiful and amazing tulip varieties are bred in the country. In the Keukenhof, you can see most of them and buy the bulbs of the tulips you like. It is not surprising that the most popular souvenirs are also tulips - wooden ones - of various shapes and shades, as well as vases made from the famous Delft blue porcelain and looking similar to the Russian Gzhel ceramics.
Welcome to the garden!
By the way, the Keukenhof was originally not a garden, but a kitchen yard - this is the meaning of its name. In the 15th century, the vegetables were grown in this garden for those who lived in the nearby castle.
The Keukenhof turned into a real garden only in the 19th century. In the middle of the last century, it became an exhibition area, a kind of the Dutch Exhibition of Achievements (like the National Economy Achievement Exhibition in Moscow), but only in a single industry - in growing the tulips. Now, in addition to being a research and exhibition park, it also functions as a cultural and entertainment centre.
Here, you can spend the whole day walking along the paths and admiring the floral arrangements, fountains, lakes with swans, and have some rest and a snack in a cafe or go boating. Children can play, visit the fairytale rabbit Miffy’s house, or enjoy the time in the children’s zoo.
An old mill is a special attraction in the Park, it is both an advanced Dutch engineering marvel and an excellent scenic viewpoint.
The Keukenhof and other places
An optional, but rather interesting part of the programme includes a walk along the vast tulip fields along the perimeter of the Park, as well as a visit to the Keukenhof Castle located nearby. But even if your schedule is too busy, it is recommended to have at least three to four hours to see the Park.
By the way, you can get to the Keukenhof directly from the Amsterdam Airport by a special airport shuttle. However, it is much more pleasant to stay in one of the small towns near the Park. If you stay in Lisse, on the outskirts of which the Keukenhof is located, you can walk to the Park; and there are special buses from Leiden, Haarlem, Rotterdam, and The Hague, and a combined ticket includes a visit to the Park.
We went to Holland to visit the Park but we were not looking for easy ways. First, we took a flight to Brussels, straight from Brussel we took a train to Antwerp, then to Rotterdam and Leiden with its famous The Awaiter (Homunculus loxodontus) and to the Keukenhof. We enjoyed our visit to Delft, the first Dutch capital, as well as to the luxurious Hague, and to Gouda, the ‘home of cheese’, and we went sightseeing in old Haarlem and coastal Noordwijk. We left the country from the Amsterdam Airport. So, we got a lot of amazing impressions admiring the flowers and architecture, and we had amazing cultural and gastro-nomic experiences.
All this was, of course, before the Covid-19 pandemic. At that time, the famous annual flower-show was held in many towns that we visited, including that at the Keukenhof Park. If you are lucky to visit the next edition of the stunning flower-show, you may be sure that you will receive a gorgeous additional bonus to your trip.
One can visit the Keukenhof many times - every year it looks different due to the changing floral arrange-ments. Therefore, we are eager to go there again - after lifting the quarantine restrictions - when the Park can reopen. Well, if the pandemic keeps on breaking our plans, it can be done online, such an opportunity appeared last year for every lover of tulips - just go to the ‘Keukenhof’ website or page on social networks.
And one more thing. I may be wrong, but it seemed to me that the architecture of some extraordinary buildings we saw in the Netherlands, including the cubic houses in Rotterdam and the Palace of Justice in Antwerp, had clear floral motifs. However, this is another argument for combining the architectural, ed-ucational and ecological types of tourism.