We are no more than a few weeks away from enjoying the thrill of spring flowering bulbs. Here is a photo tour of a spectacular festival, held every year in the country that made Tulips famous.
On March 18, 2010, in the city of Lisse, in the Netherlands, the Keukenhof Gardens will open its gates for its annual flowering bulb exhibition. By the time they close, eight weeks later, on May 16, 2010, an estimated 800,000 visitors from around the world will have visited this international open-air event. Since the park first opened in 1949, over 43 million people have visited.
The Keukenhof exhibition was the result of the initiative of ten flower bulb growers and exporters who, in 1949, responded to the invitation of Lisse’s mayor to create a ‘showcase’ for the flower bulb industry. For that event, they chose the grounds around Keukenhof Castle. Today, over 100 bulb growers donate supplies to decorate the gardens for this exhibition.
Each year, at pre-selected locations throughout the park, thirty horticulturists hand plant, in freshly designed patterns, 7 million bulbs, donated by the growers. At the end of the season, the bulbs are harvested, and a new cycle of planting, blooming and harvesting begins again in the autumn. In addition to flowering bulbs, this event also showcases perennials, orchids and over 35,000 lilies. Visitors who like what they see are able to place orders on site. In autumn, orders are shipped all over the world in time for planting.
In the 15th century, the grounds of what is now Keukenhof were used as hunting grounds. Here, vegetables and herbs for the kitchen of the castle of Jacoba van Beieren were also collected; hence the name Keukenhof, which translates into ‘kitchen yard’.
The current park, now planted with over 2,500 trees, was only a section of a sizeable estate that was landscaped by nature with beautiful untamed bushes and dunes. After the death of Jacoba van Beieren, Keukenhof fell into the hands of affluent merchant families who, in 1857, invited prominent landscape architects and designers to create a garden around the castle. This design, primarily in the English landscape style, has always been the basis of Keukenhof.
Keukenhof is the largest bulb park in the world, covering over 75 acres, and 9 miles of footpaths. It is situated in the heart of tulip growing territory between Amsterdam and The Hague, not far from Leiden, an old university town where the first tulip bulb was introduced to the Netherlands in the middle of the 16th century. Lisse is the nearest village to Keukenhof.
For more information, click to visit the Keukenhof official website.