When I think of tulips, I think of Amsterdam. I think most people do. It’s almost certainly to do with the song which I have hummed in my head a thousand times over since childhood… windmills, tulips… mice wearing clogs… but I’d never actually been to Amsterdam. In fact; I’d never actually been to Holland, and considering the number of bulbs I plant every year, it seemed a shame not to know where a lot of them had originated. When you are a writer – sometimes you are lucky enough to be taken to wonderful places on press trips – and this week, I finally got to see Amsterdam! Although I was there for a blissful three days – seeing plenty of other sights around the area and in Haarlem – it would have been possible to do Keukenhof in one day from the UK (a long day, but definitely worth it if it’s the only way you can afford to do it).
Arriving at Keukenhof was just as you would imagine – once you have cleared the gates, it was like arriving at a theme park for gardeners! The sun was shining on us as we walked around the park, and although it is difficult to suggest an exact time of year to go (with tulips being like all plants – and doing exactly what they want in their own sweet time), the park was looking incredible this week. There were some parts of the planting which weren’t yet at their peak – for example a huge picture of Van Gogh planted in blue plants, which were only just coming out, but on the whole, the flowers were looking just perfect!
The thing I loved most about the tulips there was that there were so many different varieties to look at. Tulips are so varied, and really have something for everyone to fall in love with – no matter what your style. I have always loved the parrot tulips – with their stunning colours, but this week I have fallen in love with the smaller more round budded varieties. The colours all around the park are like an assault on the senses – in the best possible way of course! It would be impossible to look upon the bright glossy reds, and the cheerful yellows, without a smile on your face.
Of course, if tulips aren’t your favourite thing, there are plenty of other flowers there too – hyacinths, and narcissi, and all of the other beautiful spring flowers that combined with the tulips, make Keukenhof a very special place indeed. The park is only open for 8 weeks in the springtime, but if you have ever wanted to see this wonderful display – it’s definitely worth the visit!!!
For some people, the structured gardens are not appealing, but that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be of interest to visit the area. Following our visit in Keukenhof, we rode through the bulbs fields on bicycle. It is possible to hire cycles from right outside the park, and the experience of riding through the bulbs fields – with a bright tapestry of colours from the tulips, and hyacinths, is something that I will never forget. Now when I plant my spring bulbs, or when I buy a bunch of tulips, I won’t just be picturing Amsterdam – I will be thinking of bulb fields, and the scent of the flowers on the air, and a wonderful country with an amazing history which has been so interlinked with horticulture.
I’m a 30 year old, writer, photographer, gardener, and sweetpea obsessive! I did a degree in English Literature at The University of Liverpool, and when I am not writing I’m often found in my garden.
Deborah has also written gardening articles for The Herts Advertiser