The Keukenhof is the world’s best known spring garden, as famous for its stunning tulips and inspirational displays of colour as for its horticultural precision. During the short two month period that it is open to the public each spring, the Keukenhof receives hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Every year from March to May, the Keukenhof opens to its gates to the public and celebrates spring in all its magnificence. After the relatively colourless months of winter, these multi-coloured gardens are a feast for the senses. The Keukenhof is the largest bulb park in the world and covers over 30 hectares and 15 kilometres of footpaths with 7 million flower bulbs planted by hand every year. The result is simply breathtaking – even photos cannot quite do justice to the splendour of acres of blooming tulips during the tulip season. A visit to the Keukenhof, is a Must if you are visiting the Netherlands during the tulip season.
The Keukenhof is situated in the heart of tulip growing territory between Amsterdam and the Hague. It is not far from Leiden (an old university town where the tulip was first introduced to the Netherlands) and the nearest village is Lisse.
Keukenhof - the palace garden...
The name Keukenhof means kitchen yard or garden. The current site originally provided the herbs and vegetables to the local palace kitchens in the 15th Century. In 1857, the gardens were landscaped by Jan Zocher, a prominent Dutch landscape architect, whose legacy includes Amsterdam’s beloved Vondelpark but it wasn’t until circa one hundred years later that a group of tulip growers initiated a spring flower exhibition at the Keukenhof in 1949. They never looked back.
Strolling through these gardens, it is easy to comprehend how the tulip came to dominate the lives of so many Dutch people hundreds of years ago. The national emblem of the Netherlands, the tulip has long been synonymous with Holland and was originally introduced in the 1590s. Tulip mania quickly followed with the crazy selling of tulip bulbs for as much as the price of a house, until the market collapsed in 1637.
However it is not only the tulip that the Keukenhof celebrates. All bulbous plants are showcased here as well as perennials. There is also a great display of stunning orchids, over 35,000 lilies, daffodils, hyacinths, narcissus and much more. There are many garden sculptures throughout the grounds and over 2,500 trees, many of which are very old.
The gardens are primarily designed in the classic English landscape style but contain many examples of other garden styles. It is this diversity that makes the Keukenhof so inspiring. For example the charming Nature Gardens combine wild bulbous plants with perennials and shrubs, and is truly enchanting. There are the fascinating Historic Gardenswhich including ancient herbs (culinary and medicinal) and also very old tulip varieties, and the very elegant Japanese country garden.
Order your bulbs for the next season while you are there
If you find yourself inspired by what you see – the shapes, the colours, the arrangements, the varieties, the tall, the short, the early blooming and the late – you can order your bulbs on site at the end of your visit (having seen first hand what each variety looks like). The Keukenhof will then package and send your selected bulbs the following Autumn, in plenty of time for planting, no matter where you are in the world.
It is a great day out, especially if you are looking for ideas to revamp your garden, patio, balcony or window box!
Getting there: The Keukenhof team suggest the easiest way to get to the Keukenhof is by using the public transport bus service, run by Connexxion. You can get an all-in ticket which includes return fare plus entrance to the Keukenhof gardens. Buses depart from Amsterdam, Schipol (airport), Leiden and the Hague.
Once you do get there, if you would rather not walk, you can also rent a bike and cycle around the Keukenhof