It’s that time of year again, despite the long winter, spring has sprung and where better to embrace this explosion of colours than Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam. As all good things, they don’t last forever. With Keukenhof, you need to plan your trip well ahead.
For eight weeks from 20 March this 32-hectare parkland that started as the 15th century kitchen garden of Countess Jacqueline of nearby Teylinggen Castle, plays host to 800,000 people from 100 countries.
Unlike most of the public parks in Holland where the terrain is flat, Keukenhof resembles the English landscape garden, with slopes, little streams, a lake and lots of pretty footbridges. This is the work of landscape architect, Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher, who were engaged to redesign the gardens in 1857.
Seven million bulbs are planted by hand between September and December to produce this showcase of Holland’s floriculture. They are donated by 100 royal bulb suppliers.
You might be forgiven for assuming tulips come from Holland.
In fact they originate in the Tian Shan mountains in the Himalayas and were taken to Turkey by the Seljuks in the 11th Century. Belgian doctor and botanist, Carolus Clusius first planted the bulb in Antwerp in 1560 and took the tulip with him to Holland when we was appointed director of the Hortus Botanicus (Botanical Gardens) in Leiden in 1593 and the tulip empire was born.
Today, Holland is the world’s largest producer of tulips with 4.2 million bulbs grown annually, half of which are exported.
Just outside Keukenhof is Lisse, famed for its bulb fields. To get there, Van dam Bikes offer bikes and tandems of every size with makes to signposted routes.
It you time it right, you might even catch a glimpse of the flower parade which passes Keukenhof.
Well, what are you waiting for? You have five days left. Get packing!