If you plan to travel anywhere in or near The Netherlands from March through late May, a day-trip to the Keukenhof Gardens is a must. The Keukenhof is the largest garden in the world and no matter if it is rainy or sunny, cold or warm, you will be rewarded by an opportunity to see a plethora of vivid, blooming plants.
We traveled there as part of our AMA Waterways Tulip Cruise experience. The weather was actually pretty nice for the end of April, in the low 60 degrees and very little rain. But, due to a long, hard winter, many of the tulips were not in bloom, at least not in the out-door beds. Instead, we were treated to Daffodils, Narcissus and lots of colorful Hyacinths. The three pavilions, however, were well stocked with hydrangea, alstroemeria, roses, and yes…lots of tulips.
Each of the pavilions is dedicated to a particular flower show which changes periodically. And, they offer a variety of arrangements and planting designs by local growers. In the Willem Alexander Pavilion you will find nearly 100,000 tulips displayed throughout the season. This was a breathtaking exhibit. I found so many unique tulips that I could barely tear myself away.
The Keukenhof features more than 32 hectares of flowers, walking paths, fountains and sculptures. We were amazed by the sheer size of the place and the meticulous care given to keeping the grounds spotless and flower-filled.
Many of the paths will take you to sculptures or other artworks on display; there are more than 100 works of art ensconced at the Keukenhof. The combination of art and nature contributes greatly to what makes this garden so spectacular.
As you stroll along the walking paths, you will find plenty of benches to sit upon and take in the splendor before you. Open air cafes and restaurants are also available for a quick meal or drink while you take a little rest before resuming your walk.
On site, there is a fairy-tale looking windmill from which you can reach the second floor to get a 360 degree view of the garden and the tulip fields beyond. This is an easy climb worth taking.
All in all, a visit to the Keukenhof is a relaxing way to spend a morning or afternoon. If you love spring flowers, you will love the Keukenhof.
For more information, including opening dates and times, visit the official Keukenhof website.
Written by Terri Fogarty and photos by Bill Fogarty for EuropeUpClose.com