Lisse: Flower show starts out mostly indoors at Keukenhof gardens
March 27, 2013
Thank heavens for crocuses. If it were not for these little spring flowers, there wouldn’t be anything blooming outdoors at the Netherlands’ Keukenhof gardens.
A long, frosty winter has kept the gardens’ famed tulips from poking their blooms out of the cold earth, leaving the grounds a dull brown and green.
To partly make up for this, organizers have planted thousands of flowers in pots and boxes lining the paths that crisscross the gardens.
Inside the Willem-Alexander Pavilion, however, it is a different story. Here, tens of thousands of tulips are in bloom, along with daffodils, hyacinths and lilies. And as always, the Beatrix Pavilion features a wonderful display of orchids.
Keukenhof, on the outskirts of Lisse, southwest of Amsterdam, was once a 15th century estate that belonged to the Countess of Holland, Jacoba van Beieren. In the 19th century, a German landscaper designed a park that is the basis for today’s gardens.
The tulip arrived in Holland in 1593 from Constantinople, today’s Istanbul. By the 1630s a “tulip mania” had gripped the Dutch. Legend has it that an Amsterdam canal house was once traded away for a single bulb. When, in 1637, the tulip bulb market wilted, fortunes were lost and the tulip was again just another flower.
The first spring flower show was held at Keukenhof in 1949, when 40 bulb growers from the Lisse area got together to show off their flower bulbs. Today more than 90 growers plant about 7 million bulbs to thrill the more than 800,000 visitors to the gardens.
When the weather finally warms up, millions of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths will be blooming in colorful bursts of red, yellow, blue, pink, violet and white. Then you can spend hours strolling the paths winding past flower beds, ponds and fountains. Statues by various artists line the paths and dot the gardens as well. A climb up Keukenhof’s old windmill offers a view of the gardens and the blooming tulip fields that surround it.
Know & Go When The gardens are open until May 20, daily from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Ticket office closes at 6 p.m.
Cost Admisison is 15 euros for adults; 7.50 euros for ages 4 to 11. Parking is 6 euros. Admission and parking tickets can be bought in advance online.
Getting there The park is on the outskirts of Lisse, Netherlands, between The Hague (Den Haag) and Amsterdam. From The Hague, take A44 toward Amsterdam, exit at Sassenheim and take N208 toward Lisse. From Amsterdam, take A4 toward The Hague and exit at N207 toward Lisse. Signs will direct you to Keukenhof.
Buses leave Amsterdam from the Leidseplein/Museumplein to Schiphol Airport. There are direct buses to Keukenhof from Schiphol Airport (bus 58); from Leiden Central train station, take bus 854.
Tips There are restaurants and snack stands on the grounds. The prices, while not exactly cheap, are not unreasonable. You can bring your own food and eat outside on the benches and tables spread throughout the park.
Dogs are allowed on the grounds, but not in the flower pavilions and restaurants.
Bikes can be rented at Keukenhof for tours through the bulb fields.
The annual Flower Parade from Nordwijk to Haarlem takes place on April 20. It starts a 9:30 a.m. and passes Keukenhof around 3:35 p.m.
On the Web See www.keukenhof.nl. You can purchase tickets online so you won’t have to stand in line.