Keukenhof, on the outskirts of Lisse, southwest of Amsterdam, was once a 15th century estate that belonged to the Countess of Holland, Jacoba van Beieren. In the 19th century, a German landscaper decided something much more grand was in order… and man oh man, did he deliver!
Literally, Keukenhof Gardens is the largest flower garden on Earth, and from March to May 2013, the gently rolling grounds burst into a kaleidoscope of blooms. An annual event for 65 years, Keukenhof has attracted more than 50 million enthusiasts; 850,000 tip-toed through the tulips this year alone.
So… what makes the Keukenhuf event so special?
Well, it could be the 80 park-like acres overflowing with great swathes of neatly patterned color (OCD, anyone?) or the heady perfume of more than 7 million bulbs bursting to life in unison. Covering every shade and hue in the palette there are daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths (oh my!) nestled among blooming trees and meandering pathways as far as the eye can see.
TULIP TUTORIAL: The tulip arrived in Holland in 1593 from Constantinople, today’s Istanbul. By the 1630s a “tulip mania” had gripped the Dutch. Legend has it that an Amsterdam canal house was once traded away for a single bulb. When, in 1637, the tulip bulb market wilted, fortunes were lost and the tulip was again just another flower.
And for all you Orchidaceae lovers out there, there is a giant hot house chock full of incredible orchids, some new varieties fresh out of the test tube… I’m talking tissue culture here, baby.
For those lucky enough to live close or have the day to spend at leisure there are classes and workshops available — a real “how to” course in bringing the beauty of flowers into your world.
So, what happens when the 60 days are up? This unique, original work of art called Keukenhof turns into a pumpkin, and by that I mean it is completely disassembled leaving no bulb left unturned. You see, next year’s event will be very different and totally new. Hmm… makes me wonder how long it takes to actually plant 7 million flower bulbs?
Mark your calendar for next year’s big event: March 20 – May 18, 2014.