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The Keukenhof Gardens just outside of Amsterdam are in full bloom and tours of the gardens and fields continue through May 20th. If you’re looking for a daytrip or overnight getaway from Paris, consider taking an easy three-hour Thalys fast rail ride from Gare du Nord station in central Paris to Centraal Station in Amsterdam or renting a car for a scenic five-hour drive north to the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Holland.
The Keukenhof Gardens are in Lisse, a small town about 35 kilometers outside of Amsterdam city center. Every year over seven million bulbs are planted at the Keukenhof Gardens, the fifteenth-century estate that was once home to Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria. It’s fair to call the gardens and forests the prettiest trade show anywhere—almost 80 acres of garden open only for the spring flowering season of only two months annually. It is a magnificent show rich in color, information and sheer pleasure, where daffodils, hyacinths and tulips in all their glory create fields resembling Joseph’s patchwork Coat of Many Colors.
One need not be a gardener to appreciate winding rivers of grape hyacinth, waving daffodil beds and masses of hyacinth along the streams where swans glide. And then there are tulips: over four million tulips in full bloom. Those who want to know more can choose from a full schedule of pavilion shows, workshops, and flower-arranging demonstrations. Those who want to buy flowering bulbs to bring home may find it challenging to choose from the enormous selection. (Editor’s note: the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows travelers to return with bulbs purchased from Dutch growers approved for legal import into the U.S.)
As beautiful as the Keukenhof Gardens were, we enjoyed even more driving the Bollenstreek Route to see the plants in the fields. The route is well marked by dark blue and white directional signs, but road construction and detours can be confusing. The road from Noordwijkerhout to Lisse was the most beautiful, with field after field carpeted in golden daffodils or interlaced with fragrant blue, pink and white hyacinths that perfumed the air. Barely open, budding tulips gave just a hint of color to come.
Bulbs in the fields are cut at the peak of their flowering to produce healthy bulbs for future planting. All Keukenhof Gardens bulbs will be dug up at the end of May when the spring season closes and a new garden is planted for September. Every year is different. This year the theme is “Germany: Nation of Philosophers and Poets.” Ten thousand bulbs were used to create a blooming Brandenburg Gate.
The spring season at Keukenhof Gardens closes at the end of May. The site is handicap accessible, easy to see and replete with amenities. We spent a few hours; others spend days. The fields may also be toured by rented bicycles or electric boat tours.
Stationsweg 166a, 2161 AM LISSE, Netherlands
Telephone: +31 (0) 252 465 555
Bus: 54, 89, 197 + 58
Hours: 8 AM to 7:30 PM Monday – Sunday
Spring Season: March 24 to May 20
Admission: Adult Tickets 14.50 €, Children’s Tickets 7€
Copyright © 2011 Jean and Peter Richards
Photo credits—all Creative Commons licenses:
An Amsterdam hotel we think you’ll like . . .
The Toren Hotel features 38 elegant suites on the Keizersgracht canal, around the block from the Anne Frank House. It offers elegant air-conditioned rooms and flat-screen TVs with digital entertainment system. Westermarkt Tram Stop is less than 650 ft from the hotel. Dam Square and the Royal Palace are a 10-minute walk away.
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