Thursday, May 1, 2014

Boats, Windmills and Tulips…Keukenhof Gardens

Day 9 - Keukenhof Gardens
We boarded a bus and headed toward the town of Lisse. As we neared the town we could see some farmers working the land.
The color of the land turned from earth tones to pastel tones.
And then the pastel colors turned into a carpet of color.
Green, purple, white, blue, red, orange, yellow...
We were approaching the tulip growing area and the Keukenhof Gardens.
The Keukenhof Gardens (Kitchen Gardens) is the world's largest flower garden. It is situated in the town of Lisse. Keukenhof is open annually from mid-March to mid-May with the best time to view the tulips, depending on the weather, is mid-April. The spectacle of the tulips in bloom only occurs during 8 weeks of the entire year.
The garden was established in 1949 with the idea to present a flower exhibit where growers from all over the Netherlands and Europe could show off their hybrids – and help the Dutch export industry. Approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted annually in the park, which covers an area of 32 hectares (79 acres). 
The Keukenhof features a variety of different gardens and garden styles. For example, the English landscape garden features winding paths and unexpected see-through points. The historical garden is an enclosed garden where you can see many old types of bulbs. The nature garden consists of a water garden where shrubs and perennials are combined with bulbous plants. The Japanese country garden is a non-traditional garden in a natural environment.
These ladies were preparing flower displays for the main exhibit room. The displays contained a variety of flowers and props.
Some displays consisted of fairly simple designs.
Other displays were pretty elaborate designs.
The purpose of the exhibit and flower designs was to attract flower buyers.
The displays show the flowers in bloom, but the buyers are really just interested in buying the tulip bulbs.
I suppose that if the flower is of high quality, it is an indication that the bulb is also of high quality.
I think that my mom was enjoying herself.
After walking around the main exhibit room for a while, we decided to walk around the outdoor garden.
I was honestly more impressed with the outdoor garden than the indoor exhibit room.
The tulip is the symbol of The Netherlands. 
The flower is an inspiration to many people and it is impossible to imagine an everyday street scene in Holland without them. 
The history of the tulip is long, varied and filled with intrigue.
Around 1550, Turkey was a powerful country lead by the wealthy Sultan Suleiman II. His palace gardens were filled with the most beautiful tulips.
The Sultan gave some tulip bulbs to an Austrian Ambassador who passed them on to the Dutchman Carolus Clusius who planted the first tulip bulbs in The Netherlands in 1593.
Most tulips originated from the mountains between Turkey and China. They are adapted to cold snowy winters and hot, dry summers.
The bulb is safely under ground and therefore does not suffer as a result of the cold or heat. It has enough food reserves to get through unfavorable periods. This is why the species can survive so well. The bulbs are the most desirable part of the tulip and are harvested and sold around the world.
The name tulip comes from the Persian word tulipan which means turban. This refers to the shape of the tulip bulb.
More than 400 years ago, in and around the Dutch town of Haarlem, the cultivation and trade in flower bulbs started. Since then, the cultivation area has expanded to the north and south.
One of the oldest tulips, the pink white Lac Van Rijn, first described in 1620, still exist to this day. You can see the old species in the historical garden.
In early years, the flamed or striped tulips were favored as the most beautiful. The flamed tulip originated because of a virus which is carried by aphids from the one plant to another, so these popular tulips were actually diseased.
Today the tulip grower does everything in order to keep the tulips healthy and free of viruses. The flamed and striped tulips which still exist are virus free because of today's improved cultivation methods.
In 1850, the search for a black tulip was the inspiration for the book, La Tulipe Noire (The Black Tulip) by Alexandre Dumas. The story was based in The Netherlands in 1672 and is about a competition in the city of Haarlem with a prize of 100,000 guilders for whoever cold develop The Black Tulip. There was a fierce battle, but the competition was without a winner.
It appeared to me that there were hundreds of varieties of tulips.
And there were just as many other varieties of flowers and colors represented at Keukenhof.
There were some landscaped areas in the garden that were green.
But almost every inch of the grounds was covered with a multi-color carpet of flowers.
After spending a number of hours walking around the garden, it was time to return to our boat.
It also meant that our time in The Netherlands was coming to an end.

For more info about The Netherlands and Keukenhof Gardens visit

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