The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.
Saint Augustine
Nature’s Canvas in Bloom at Keukenhof Gardens

Surely Elizabeth Murray, artist and award winning author, gardener and photographer, had seen Keukenhof Gardens when she wrote that “Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.”

That is precisely how I felt while visiting Keukenhof, the most beautiful spring garden in the world. Located less than 20 miles southwest of Amsterdam, Keukenhof Gardens is the home of a spectacular display of spring flowers and one of the most photographed sites in the world.

More than seven million tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, anemones, crocuses and other bulb flowers are replanted by hand each year in Keukenhof’s seven theme gardens. Themes include long, narrow city gardens with colorful borders, vases and pots planted with monochromatic or
multicolored blossoms, and beds of floral beauty that meander around ponds, wander near low growing shrubs and drift in the dappled sunlight of 150 year old beech trees. Round gardens planted with serene colors combined with odd bright accents, as well as gardens of all shapes that combine flower bulbs and perennials are planted throughout the park.

Keukenhof is situated on the site of an enormous 15th century estate once owned by the Countess of Holland, Jacoba van Beieren. The estate garden supplied herbs and vegetables for the castle – hence the name Keukenhof which literally means “Kitchen Garden”. At 79 acres, today’s park is based on the original 1857 English landscape garden design and overflows with beauty at every turn.

The idea of a spring flower exhibition began in 1949 when a group of bulb growers and exporters were looking for a venue to promote the bulb trade. A success in its first year, the exhibition became an annual event and continues to provide a successful showcase for the Dutch bulb trade after nearly 60 years.

Keukenhof is open to the public for only two months from mid-March to mid-May. Thirty horticulturalists employed at the park use the rest of the year to dig up the bulbs, prepare the soil, plant the beds and groom the trees, shrubbery and trees for the next season. During those two months, more than 750,000 visitors from Holland and the rest of the world pour through the gates, cameras in hand, to explore and enjoy the gardens.
And if flowers aren’t enough, beautiful bronze statues and other artistic pieces by renowned Dutch artists are on display throughout the park. The allium shaped water spray located just inside the Hoofdingang entrance is one of the park’s several soothing water features.

Indoor pavilions host up to ten stunning flower exhibitions during the annual running period of the flower show. Displays of orchids, forsythias, bromeliads, roses, begonias, chrysanthemums, lilies, tulips and other flowering plants from more than 90 holders of Royal Warrants, a designation only awarded for quality that merits official royal recognition.

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