It sounds like a cliché, but no visit to the Netherlands is complete without visiting its famous Keukenhof.
Spring time is approaching in Holland and most of the Zuid Holland provinces are a beautiful tapestry of colours. Flying into Holland in daylight around Spring time is an amazing sight and looks like a brightly coloured patchwork quilt made up of flowers. Unfortunately most of the Tulips, Hyacinths and many other flower bulbs are grown commercially and bloom for only a short period, after which they are topped and the bulbs exported to all corners of the world.
Keukenhof is situated close to the village of Lisse and if you miss the commercial fields, is an excellent opportunity to experience this wonderful sight of flowers, trees and special exhibitions. Over seven million bulbs are planted each year with more than 1600 different varieties, and then there are 2500 trees in 87 different varieties. That is one very big garden!
The history of Keukenhof itself is very interesting. Its meaning, translated, is ‘kitchen-garden’ and was used originally by Jacoba van Beieren as a herb garden. She lived in the Castle of Teylingen which is near Keukenhof. She died there in October 1436. The remains of the Castle are still there and is open for visits from March till November.
There is also a stunning flower parade which weaves its way through the quaint villages in Zuid Holland and travels for over 40km from Noordwijk to Haarlem. You will have missed the parade this year as it was on the 12th of April 2012, but make a note for next year, it will be on the 20th of April 2013.
Be sure to visit the famous flower auction house in Aaslmeer. The biggest flower auction in the world with 125,000 transactions undertaken every day and over 12 billion cut flowers sold there every year. One needs to start early though, it opens to the public between 7 – 11am, weekdays only, and costs around 5 Euros.
This year is a special year. Every 10 years, Holland hosts its Floriade, an international exhibition of flowers and gardening. It began on the 5th of April and finishes on the 7th of October. This is truly the pinnacle of all things floral, not only for any garden or flower enthusiast, but also for any garden novice who appreciates beauty. And remember, if you don’t go this year, you will have to wait another 10 years before it comes around again.