“Guarded within the old red wall’s embrace,
Marshalled like soldiers in gay company,
The tulips stand arrayed. Here infantry
Wheels out into the sunlight. What bold grace
Sets off their tunics, white with crimson lace!
Here are platoons of gold-frocked cavalry,
With scarlet sabres tossing in the eye
Of purple batteries, every gun in place.
Forward they come, with flaunting colors spread,
With torches burning, stepping out in time
To some quick, unheard march. Our ears are dead,
We cannot catch the tune. In pantomime
Parades that army. With our utmost powers
We hear the wind stream through a bed of flowers.
— from “A Tulip Garden” by Amy Lowell (1874-1925, American poet)
MORE AND MORE TULIPS Keukenhof covers 79 acres, with 100 varieties of tulips among the 4.5 million that are planted. It is the largest bulb flower park in the world; each year, 7 million flower bulbs are planted by hand.
Like tulip-beds of different shape and dyes,
Bending beneath the invisible west-wind’s sighs.
— from “Lalla Rookh, The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan” by Thomas Moore (1779-1852, Irish poet)
This being the Netherlands, a canal is always close at hand. Keukenhof has its fair share of canals.
“Let’s do it, let’s fall in love
The Dutch in old Amsterdam do it …
— from “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love” by Cole Porter from his first Broadway hit, “Paris,” 1928
FALLING IN LOVE We fell in love with Keukenhof, a unique park where spring blossoms, especially tulips, were everywhere. It has been one of the most popular destinations in the Netherlands for 60 years. The Dutch have a saying, ‘If you haven’t seen Keukenhof, you haven’t seen the Netherlands.’ Keukenhof is the ultimate expression of spring. The grounds are open for only two months each year, from 22.March until 20.May.
The grounds of Keukenhof are dotted with modern sculpture. One of the most amusing were dinosaur-like heads (see photo #2) chomping their way across the lawn beyond the tulips.
There are flowers other than tulips grown at Keukenhof. In the Historic Garden a lush wisteria vine (see photo #3) climbed skyward.
The only wooden shoes we saw in the land that made them famous were not wooden at all, but glazed terracotta (see photo #4). They were displayed above the ticket booth.
You will not go hungry at Keukenhof. There is a Beer Garden selling sausage sandwiches (see photo #5).
“Excellence at Chess is one mark of a scheming mind.”
— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
One of the more entertaining and practical of Keukenhof’s displays was its outsized chess set. We were lucky to happen upon two players in the middle of their match.
And tulips, children love to stretch
Their fingers down, to feel in each
Its beauty’s sweet nearer.
— from “A Flower in a Letter” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
Close to the its entrance, Keukenhof had a working calliope to entertain visitors. Playing traditional oompa pa music, this colorful contraption inspired me to dance (see photo #2)!
“Dutch tulips from their beds
Flaunted their stately heads.
— from “The Adventure of a Star” by James Montgomery (1771-1854, Scottish poet)
IF YOU GOT IT, FLAUNT IT In the 19th century, the castle that Adriaen Maertensz Block had built two centuries earlier now belonged the Baron and Baroness Van Pallandt. They employed landscape architects to design the grounds around the castle.
These gardens eventually became Keukenhof, which was established in 1949 by the mayor of Lisse. The plan was to exhibit flowers from all over the Netherlands and help the Dutch export industry (the Netherlands is the world’s largest exporter of flowers). Over the past 60 years, Keukenhof has attracted 44 million visitors.
One attraction at Keukenhof’s conservatory was the many vases filled with cut flowers (see photo #1), as well as amusing flower tableaux tailor-made for photo-ops. The “Kaffeeklatsch” (see photos #2, #3 & #4) was one of the conservatory’s most amusing attractions.
Not one of Flora’s brilliant race
A form more perfect can display;
Art could not feign more simple grace
Nor Nature take a line away.
— from “On Planting a Tulip-Root” by James Montgomery (1771-1854, Scottish poet)
One of Keukenhof’s most amusing, and most popular, attractions was a mirrored flower display. Visitors feverishly swapped cameras for photo-op favors, including us (see photo #1).
The tulip is a courtly quean,
Whom, therefore, I will shun.
— from “Flowers” by Thomas Hood (1799-1845, British humorist and poet)
Throughout the park are wonderful sculptural displays. We made friends with wooden version busts of Bach (see photo #1), Beethoven (see photos #2 & #4) and Brahms (see photo #3).
The wild tulip at the end of its tube, blows out its great red bell,
Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick and sell.
— from “Up at a Villa, Down in the City” by Robert Browning (1812-1889)
FOR SALE Located in the town of Lisse, 25 miles southwest of Amsterdam, Keukenhof is surrounded by acres and acres of tulip fields. Amsterdam’s airport is also nearby. The tulips from these fields are picked and immediately shipped for sale around the world. Those Dutch are an enterprising lot.
Situated on a former 15th century hunting preserve, the area also supplied herbs for the kitchen of the castle belonging to Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut. The garden’s name, Keukenhof, meaning kitchen garden, is taken from its function in the Middle Ages. Following the countess’s death the property passed through several owners, including Adriaen Maertensz Block, a captain and governor with the Dutch East India Company, who retired here and built a country house in 1641.
The sculptural works, scattered throughout the garden, make Keukenhof Europe’s largest outdoor sculptural park. We really liked seeing these modern, and sometimes amusing works of art amongst the flowers and trees.
The tulip’s petals shine in dew,
All beautiful, but none alike.
— from “On Planting a Tulip-Root” by James Montgomery (1771-1854, Scottish poet)
We visited Keukenhoff on a Sunday afternoon. We had about three hours to tour the grounds. Although that was plenty of time, I would allow more than that. We did not get to see everything. Companies offering day trips from Amsterdam have regularly scheduled coach service departing and returning to the city center. The company we used picked up guests at their hotels; and dropped them off at Centraal Station.
It is a joy to wander along the paths, among the flowers. There were more than tulips to see. I liked the “river” of grape hyacinth (see photo #1) running through the tulips.
Simply beautiful!! I dont know the statistics of how many acres and how many varieties of tulips etc. You can definitely spend half a day in this beautiful place.
If you have time, dont go with the tour agencies. You should be able to find your way to the garden, wherever you are.
It is very close to the airport, so if you have just arrived, you can leave your bags in the airport, and take the bus (there is a DIRECT bus from the airport). No point in going to Centraal station, and coming back in pretty much the same direction right? If you are going from Centraal, you need to change trains. There is no direct bus/train. Perhaps, you can go to airport and then take the direct bus?
It is open for 2 months during april-may timeframe.
A short train ride from Amsterdam in the town of Lisse is Keukenhof-the world's largest flower gardens.
Keukenhof sits on 32 acres of immaculately cared for land. The colors of the flowers are some of the boldest and brightest that you may ever see. Even if you are not a flower enthusiast, Kuekenhof still warrants a visit.
Not too far from Amsterdam and accessible by train, is the famous bulb area. Hundreds of colorful flowerfields can be found in this area during spring time. You can though this area by bike or car or you can go to the Keukenhof, a large park where all kinds of flowers are grown. Keep in mind that the Keukenhof is only opened in spring! (until mid May)
Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse
A beautiful spring garden just outside of Amsterdam. It's open from mid-March to mid-May usually. A must see really for anyone venturing to the Netherlands.
Just a short (1 hour?) bus ride from Amsterdam. It's a nice ride through Holland, and the bus driver gives all kinds of interesting information on the way.
Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Holland, It is a short drive from Amsterdam and well worth it during tulip season. Be careful, though, because there are hordes of people there that want to see it too! It is nearly impossible to take a picture without someone wandering through at just the right time.