by Jean & Peter Richards
A Joseph’s Coat quilt is blooming in Holland. Swaths of daffodil and hyacinth will be followed by tulip this week in the fields around Lisse where spring is celebrated in all its colorful glory at the Keukenhof Gardens little more than five hours drive north of Paris.
Each year the growers whose surrounding fields produce the Dutch bulbs supply the 15th century estate of Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria with seven million of their best for what can only be termed the prettiest trade show anywhere — almost 80 acres of garden open only for the two months of flowering.
It is a magnificent show rich in color, information and sheer pleasure.
One need not be a gardener to appreciate the river of grape hyacinth, the winding beds of daffodil, the masses of hyacinth along the waterside on which 12 leased swans glide and the over four million tulips coming into bloom. Those who want to know more will have an array of events from which to choose: ever- changing shows in the pavilions, lectures on growing and demonstrations of arranging. Those who want to buy will be spoilt for choice.
As beautiful as the gardens are, we enjoyed even more driving the Bollenstreek Route to see the plants in the fields. The route is well marked by dark blue and white sexagonal signs, but roadworks can interfere and detours can be confusing. The road from Noordwijkerhout to Lisse was the most beautiful with field after field carpeted in golden daffodil or interlaced with blue, pink and white hyacinth whose scent permeated the air. Tulips gave just a hint of color to come as their buds opened.
The bulbs in the fields may be cut at the peak of their flowering to produce healthy bulbs for future planting. All the bulbs in Keukenhof Garden will be dug up after it closes and a new garden planted in September. Every year is different. This year the theme is “Germany, Nation of Philosophers and Poets.” Ten thousands bulbs have been used to create a blooming Brandenburg Gate.
The 62nd edition of the garden closes May 20th. The entrance fee is 14.50€. Parking in the adjacent field is 6€. The garden is handicap accessible, easy to see and replete with amenities. We spent a few hours. Others spend days. The fields can also be seen by bicycling well kempt paths or by touring in an electric boat.
Copyright © 2011 Jean and Peter Richards