A return trip to the Keukenhof garden in Holland and what a spectacular place it is. The brilliant thing about this garden is how competently it is run – from the regular busses from the airport and central Amsterdam to the friendliness of the staff to the cleanliness of the park, the Keukenhof is a fine example of Dutch efficiency. Hardly surprising, since in 2016 it welcomed over a million visitors and judging by this year’s crowds, 2017 will probably beat that figure.
Each year the Keukenhof themes the planting and this year was all about Dutch design which they describe as ‘Dutch sobriety combined with innovative solutions’. Hmm. I noticed the Mondrian style bulb mosaic )sorry no photo) but especially loved the abundant planting throughout the park.
An expansive garden surrounded from the harsh winds that whip across the bulb fields by a belt of mature trees, there are streams and woodland areas, a lake and everywhere, winding paths though thousands and thousands of tulips. There is even a windmill and this year, a new visitor centre welcomes the many visitors. There are additional indoor areas too, with displays of spring flowers amid cafes and gift stalls.
The Keukenhof is a showcase for Dutch bulb growers with different sections of the garden informing the visitor which bulb grower was responsible for each display. Most of the bulbs were helpfully labelled although a frustrating number were not – annoying when you are visiting with a garden photographer who needs the plant labels for reference.
However park-like the setting, the planting was far removed from the municipal park style that one might expect. Complimentary shades, startlingly clashing colours and inspirational ideas were everywhere.
Whilst in the area, a stop off at the Museum de Zwart Tulp (The black tulip museum) in Limmen is a must for anyone interested in the history of tulips and tulip growing in Holland. Although small, the museum is packed with information, paintings, old photographs and implements from the days when tulip farming was done entirely by hand. There was even a short black and white film about preparing bulbs for export in those days. Apologies that not all my photographs are labelled, I got a bit carried away with my camera and forgot to note some of the varieties! (although bottom left is Belle Epoque). Finally, if you have ever entertained the romantic notition of cycling through bulb fields, you can do that too. Bike hire is available right beside the garden for you to explore the flat paths beside the dykes and bulb fields that make the area so famous.