I have to keep reminding myself of how lucky I am to do the job that I do. When my social media followers heard that I was visiting the Keukenhof bulb gardens in Holland, many people said it was on their bucket list, or they had always dreamt of visiting! So, I really hope that my articles and videos can help everyone to enjoy a virtual visit, from wherever they’re located!
It’s hard to believe this fairytale paradise is open for just a few weeks of the year. It takes weeks and weeks to plant up the 7 million bulbs that make up THIRTY TWO hectares of bulb gardens. I was super lucky to have been asked to attend by KLM, as part of their #KLMtoAmsterdam promotions!
800,000 visitors flock from all corners of the globe visit the Keukenhof during it’s short 8 week window of opening. It’s the place where tulips bring people together. It’s also one of the most photographed places in the world (probably!) and the home of the selfie. The standard poses are either laying in front of the display showgirl style, or standing behind some tulips and simulating a big flowery hug!
Even if you have zilch interest in plants and gardening, you’ll soon find yourself oohing and aching over bulb displays that stretch as far as the eye can see, and which resemble the most calorific candy.
If any place was the poster boy for spring bulbs, it has to be Keukenhof. Hopefully, most visitors trot home inspired to plant some jewels into their garden in the autumn. Sadly, spring bulbs are never planted as much as they deserve to be. It seems that many people have a disconnect with the fact that they are autumn planted, yet spring flowering. Or perhaps the fair-weather gardeners haven’t got the patience to wait that long…!
The whispering boat tour was serene, colourful and educational (thanks to the in-ear commentary). The tour was a welcome break from the crowds, however, although I made a rookie error by trying to film slo-mo of a trip that was already quite ambling! I then realised I might see more of the flowering patchwork from above, by helicopter perhaps! Although, since my visit I have tracked down the Droning Dutchman, who has been filming the fields from above. He kindly allowed me to share some of his photos:
But, let’s get onto the flowers. Out of thousands of varieties, I’m going to tell you which 10 caught my eye:
10 must-see plants at the Keukenhof
ONE. Pink Daffodils. Seen by some as marketing hype, the fabled pink daffodil was at Keukenhof in various forms and looked absolutely dazzling. Whilst we are talking salmon pink rather than an in-your-face magenta, it’s equally attractive. It’s a good antidote for those that find the rich golden of standard daffodils a bit too bright to bear!
TWO. Blue Tulips. Another questionable colour, but still so darn pretty, whether you call it lavender or lilac! A marvel to many, as most people imagine tulips only come in red! Their floaty appearance would lend well to an indoor vase, which should be Instagrammed until it wilts!
THREE. The Black Hyacinth. There’s only one true black Hyacinth, and it was brought to market by Thompson & Morgan a few years back. Noticeable from more than fifty paces, and intriguingly cordoned off, this variety still could not be overlooked. The tall trees above it shielded the deep of colour from the sunlight to great benefit.
FOUR. Fritillaria imperialis- The Crown Imperial. Plants and flowers are so intriguing, and I will never cease to be amazed by their appearances. Who would imagine a flower that looks like an orange crown aloft a leafy totem pole? Most visitors won’t have got close enough to experience the fragrance of this plant either, which is a good thing, believe me!
FIVE. Anemone Mr Fokker. A fairly common Dutch surname, but giggle fuel to most Englishmen, ‘Mr Fokker’ is the name given to the most ethereal blue Anemone. The tissue paper blooms are particularly sexy when the sun is shining through them as well.
SIX. My favourite combination. With a whole host of innovative combinations around the gardens, it was hard to pick out a favourite! However, I loved this colour combo that broke all the rules!
SEVEN. Peony-flowered Tulips. A gardening novice could be forgiven for mistaking these tulips for roses, such is their mimicking appearance! I managed to hunt down red, mauve and pink around the gardens too, and only wished I could have picked some to take home!
EIGHT. Fancy Hydrangea. I was a little late to catch the most glossy moment of the Tulips in the Willem-Alexander Pavilion, however the Hydrangea were looking particularly resplendent. Some pretty intense, and competitive, breeding has resulted in an amazing array of hybrids. Whilst quite a thirsty garden plant, they’re worth the effort, as they flower freely and tolerate some icky soils.
NINE. Tulip ‘Breathless’. Whilst the black Tulips around the gardens really caught my eye, it was ‘Breathless’ that really demanded my attention. It’s ‘Black and white’ flowers were deliciously monochrome and took pride of plant in the circular beds by Willem-Alexander Pavilion, which was an area mostly occupied by those horizontal selfie-takers.
TEN. Topiary, pleaching, espalier and blossom. The Dutch do tree shaping very well, it has to be said! Whether pleached, pruned or preened, the Beech and Lime specimens in the gardens are the perfect accompaniment to those wonderful flowering bulbs. Some trees were espalier pruned too! Blossom also gets an honourable mention as well, and it’s the one thing that one should never hurry to sweep up!
And if Tulips are your thing, there’s even more to check out here!
Plus, so for your armchair pleasure, I filmed you all a video of the bulb gardens. Go ahead and enjoy 14 minutes of unapologetic COLOUR! Click to watch.
If you’re set to visit the Keukenhof, you’ll need to be swift, as they’re set to shut the big gates on 21 May this year. However, it’s worth taking your time and planning for next spring, and why not combine it with a bit of Amsterdam exploration too! KLM fly from UK airports, and the flight is super quick. Read about my experience here. KLM also fly worldwide from 17 UK airports.
Please note that when you see the tag ‘plant geek partners’, this indicates that a post may be sponsored or could include affiliate links.