As the harsh morning frost slowly looses its fury, Dutch botanists nurture their countless tulip bulbs in preparation for the warming spring sun. The provinces of Holland in The Netherlands are bustling to prepare for the thousands of tourists from all parts of the globe that will descend upon the little European country for a glimpse at the most beautiful of gardens – the Keukenhof.
Planted near the town of Lisse, the Keukenhof Gardens literally explode with color for only two months out of the year. As each tulip and spring flower greedily strains upward for the sunbeams, visitors snap pictures and purchase bulbs and seedlings, hoping to plant their own stunning gardens. Clever genetic engineers have managed to subvert Mother Nature’s aversion to natural red tulips by cross-breeding, although this blunt disrespect is only tolerated for a few generations and the cross-breeding must again be repeated.
Crouch down for a closer look to experience a bug’s view of these natural masterpieces. Rather have a bird’s eye view? What better place to gaze out over endless fields of color than from a perch on an old wooden windmill? After all, no Dutch garden would be complete without one! From here, the rows of tulips go on in every hue imaginable and as far as the eye can see. The gardens are just fields, though. Tip-toe down a tulip-lined path that weaves in and out of the shading trees. Listen to the soft trickling of the fountains as you relax next to a tranquil lake. Admire the intricate designs created by planting just the right type and color of flower in the perfect spots.
For children that don’t quite understand the intoxicating and breathtaking effect of the gardens, the small playground will be their highlight. Whether you’ve got a green thumb or only wish that you did, the Keukenhof astounds.
The highlight of tulip season is the Flower Parade, occurring in mid-April every year. Creatively decorated floats and luxury cars crammed with as many blooms as humanly possible slowly make their way along the 40 kilometer trek while onlookers ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over their designs. It takes almost 12 hours for the entire parade to get from Noordwijk to Haarlem, which is even more amazing when considering that multiple marching bands accent the long line of floats and cars.
By mid-May, the blooms have begun to lose their luster. The Keukenhof looks towards the remaining 10 months of the year for preservation, maintenance, and replanting for the next thousands of tourists who will come the following March. Their gentle care of the delicate bulbs and attention to the tiniest of details promise another season of brilliant color and enchanted garden guests.