It has been described as the most beautiful spring garden in the world but I would go further and say that a visit to Keukenhof, in the Netherlands, is an unforgettable experience and far more than just a garden.
I started my trip from Amsterdam with my Mum (you can spot how beautiful she looks below!) by getting the train to Schiphol Airport. From there you pick up a well marked and frequently running bus straight to Keukenhof that takes under half an hour. I bought a combined ticket for the bus and entrance to the park so I avoided all the queues, easy to do online and well worth it.
For about 8 weeks over Springtime the 32 hectares are alive with over 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The colours and fragrance delight your senses in a unique way and it’s a photographer’s paradise attracting visitors from around the globe who want to see the Netherlands’ iconic tulip fields. As well as beds upon beds of perfectly manicured flowers, there were also gorgeous larger scale floral arrangements such as a John Lennon and Yoko Ono esque peace bed, to this stunning piano below, to sweet spring grottos. It all added a great charm to this prettiest spot.
Boat Tour of Keukenhof
There are 3 key things I think symbolise The Netherlands: Tulips (of course!), windmills and canals and they’re all here! A windmill in the gardens offers spectacular views of all the bulb fields surrounding Keukenhof and a lovely way to rest from all your walking is to take the 45-minute boat trip through the bulb fields which I did. The commentary was also very interesting and explained the story of the 400 years of tulip cultivation in Holland. It’s also an amazing way to get your head around the scale of this magnificent spot.
History of Tulips
As learned from the boat trip and museums at Keukenhof, I now know that the tulip as we know them originates from the Black Sea area in the 12th century. It was a Sultan in the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the 16th century that fell in love with the flower and started to export it.
The beginning of the 17th century was really the beginning of the Golden Age when the Tulip became a status symbol and huge sums of money became involved, typically many times greater than a worker’s salary for the bulbs. Like all things, the bubble finally burst and many traders lost money as more people could afford them and other flowers were introduced including the hyacinth. For hundreds of years, the Dutch have been the most influential flower breeders and the largest tulip producers in the world.
The Oranje Nassau Pavilion
As well as the gardens there are three spectacular Pavilions dotted across Keukenhof. The Oranje Nassau Pavilion has different cut flowers every week and the Willem-Alexander Pavilion exhibits tulips, lilies, and other plants.
The theme for 2019 is Flower Power, a powerful tribute to the 1970s when hippies, peace, and music dominated the scene and today reminds us of the strength of flowers to unite global audiences as Keukenhof celebrates 70 years. My favourite was the Beatrix Pavilion with a magnificent display of orchids and anthuriums.
Keukenhof is a treat for all ages and there are lots of activities for children including a playground, petting zoo, and maze. A highlight for me was the Miffy playground with its own bespoke Miffy shop! As a Miffy fan I was really in a mini paradise! Can I just move into this house already? It’s really one of the sweetest things I have ever seen! I of course couldn’t resist another Miffy….or two….!
Talking of shops there are many shops selling a range of high quality Dutch souvenirs and a range of bulbs. When you want to sit and rest there are several restaurants spread out across the park. The perfect way to end the day was a piece of Dutch apple cake before setting off to find the bus back to the Airport.
Whilst I normally seek solace when I need it in big cities and museums to distract my mind, I’m starting to seek great comfort in nature and the silence that lies between our thousands of thoughts that careen through our minds every day, making this day at Keukenhof such a dream.
And this day surrounded by the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen truly did gift me with a source of solace, inspiration, adventure and delight that in turn has been a beautiful teacher and most healing companion.
How many of have made it to Keukenhof this season? Do you love being in nature at this time of year, and find it equally healing?
Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse, The Netherlands