It’s not just a garden, it’s a symbol of all that is spring and all that is essentially Holland.
It’s Keukenhof, which started life in 1949, to become what is now 80 acres of world-renowned, stunning gardens which each year attract hundreds of thousands of visitors, many from the UK, particularly via the ferry terminal at Hull.
It’s a real Dutch treat but 66 years ago it was just the seed of a great idea; the then mayor of Lisse, WJH Lambooy, together with 10 leading bulb-growers, conceived the scheme for a permanent annual open-air flower exhibition – and they chose the historic Keukenhof estate.
In the 15th century, the 32 hectares of the present park were part of the enormous estate belonging to the castle of Slot Teylingen. This was ruled from 1401 to 1436 by the Countess of Holland, Jacoba van Beieren, who used part of her estate as a herb and vegetable garden where she personally gathered the fresh ingredients for her kitchen.
The present Keukenhof, which means Kitchen Garden, is a reminder of that time.
In its first year as a flower exhibition, 236,000 people visited, and just 10 bulb-growing companies took part. Last year, more than 1m people poured though the turnstiles to marvel at 80 acres of paths, streams, ponds and more flowers than you have ever seen in one place at one time.
And this year could be see another record because Keukenhof’s theme is the artist, Vincent Van Gogh.
It’s 125 since the great man died and, in cooperation with the Van Gogh and the Kröller-Müller museums, Keukenhof is planning an unforgettable theme. It’s bound to be colourful and it’s sure to be a never-to-be forgotten experience.
If Van Gogh is high on your list of great painters, and you have a thing for bulbs, particularly tulips then Keukenhof is the place to visit this spring.
Keukenhof – bulbs and all – is open daily from 8am-7.30pm, from March 20 to May 17. Find out more at www.keukenhof.nl