Keukenhof: Legendary Garden of Tulip Country

Flower river. The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

Flower river. The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

If I ask you to name a country which you think is the motherland of tulips, most likely, you will say: the Netherlands. This European country has actively maintained this association for many hundreds of years already. However, the first tulips were bred not in the Netherlands, but in Central Asia (today, it is Turkey and neighboring countries). The first large consignment of tulips was delivered to Amsterdam, the capital of the Dutch Republic, in 1562, and this modest flower’s conquest of the world began.

At first, the price of tulip bulbs was so high that merchants weighed them on precise apothecary scales and sold them by the piece. Collectors were ready to pay a huge sum for rare sorts. It’s known that one gentleman gave 4,600 guilders and a carriage with two horses for one bulb of Semper Augustus. In those times, you could buy a house for such money. Thank God, today, we buy tulip bulbs for our country house’s garden much more cheaply, although the label on their pack still reads: Made in the Netherlands.

A tulip Semper Augustus

A tulip ‘Semper Augustus’

Tulips started to gain popularity in Europe. This flower wasn’t afraid of cold weather, required no protection in winter, and thrived in any season. Some new sorts started to obtain names of famous nobles. Cardinal Richelieu; Voltaire, the great French philosopher; Franz II, the first Emperor of Austria; and Louis XVIII, King of France, were fans of tulips. However the center of tulip mania was the Dutch Republic (the Netherlands, today) where the first tulip exchange was opened. For twelve years (1625-1637), nearly everyone was involved in the development of new varieties of tulips, creating and losing fortunes.

Finally, this bubble burst. The market was saturated, and the tulip rush stopped as quickly as it started. Many families lost everything, because they invested their money in flowers whose price fell drastically. The European flower madness that was called tulip mania ended, but citizens of the Netherlands preserved their love for this flower. I don’t know why Irina, my wife, also adores tulips. She was born very far from the Netherlands, but she has wished to visit the Mecca of these flowers, the Keukenhof Tulip Garden, Holland, the Netherlands, for a long time already.

Flower river. The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

Flower river. The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

If you read French novels, I am sure you know the most famous history about tulips. It sends us to the 17th century when citizens of Haarlem, the city near Amsterdam, wanted to get a unique tulip of black color. In 1672, the municipality of Haarlem promised 10,000 guilders to whoever would cultivate a completely black tulip. There were no official records, but Alexandre Dumas was so impressed by this history that he wrote a whole novel with a tragic ending.

In reality, the first black tulip saw the light in February of 1986, when Henk van Dam, the head of the West Friesland Floral Institute, the Netherlands, reported it at a conference. Six horticultural companies worked for 25 years to perfect the variety, a cross between two dark ones: Queen of the Night and Wiener Weld. While the flower seemed black, its color was deep violet. So, about 300 years had passed between the first mention of a black tulip and its actual birth.

Of course, we searched for such a flower at the new varieties exhibition in the Keukenhof Tulip Garden to make sure it exists, but we were unsuccessful. By the way, we haven’t seen black tulip fields while traveling around the neighbourhood of Lisse, Holland, but only red, yellow, white etc.

A black tulip, the Netherlands.

A tulip African King - The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip ‘African King’ – The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip Paul Scherer - The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip ‘Paul Scherer’ – The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

Today, hundreds of thousands of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are grown on the dried bottom of Haarlem’s Lake, but you can find whole flower carpets around Lisse and Keukenhof only two months of the year. In 2018, the Keukenhof Tulip Garden was open from March 22 till May 13. Crocuses started to bloom in March, then daffodils and hyacinths joined them, and at last, tulips appeared in all their beauty. The Dutch say more than seven million tulips bloom around Lisse every year, and about half a million people from all over the word visit the area in two months to enjoy this magic. I guess that is true, because on April 18 at 9:30, we found the enormous parking of Keukenhof full of cars, buses, and bikes.

It’s reasonable to buy tickets online to avoid long lines at the entrance. Keukenhof has everything you need for comfortable visiting: benches to relax, free WCs, several cafes, and places where you can buy water, strawberries, or ice cream.

The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

We prepared for our trip to the Netherlands in advance. Irina, my wife, wanted to stay within walking distance from Keukenhof and visit it every day to enjoy tulips. But in November, we failed to find places in appropriate hotels of Lisse for April. We found an apartment in Katwijk aan Zee, a small town on the coast of the North Sea, 15 km from Keukenhof.

It turned out that one visit to Keukenhof was more than enough to understand that enormous crowds don’t allow you to enjoy beautiful flower compositions. To find unique angles for your photo blog? Oh, don’t make me laugh. Photographing is maximally hampered by legions of tourists. If it were raining? Maybe it would be better, but I am not sure. Most visitors are from tourist groups, and are delivered there by numerous buses. If they must visit the garden according to their schedule, they will do it in any weather.

All in all, it made no sense to stay in Lisse or nearby for the sake of Keukenhof.

Tulips in Keukenhof

A tulip Menton Unique - The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip ‘Menton Unique’

A tulip Semper Augustus - The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip ‘Semper Augustus’

A tulip Marrero - The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip ‘Marrero’

A tulip Barracuda - The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip ‘Barracuda’

If you decide to stay in Katwijk, and you have a car in your disposal, what benefits will you derive?

1. It is only 15 km to Keukenhof.

2. A long bicycle/pedestrian promenade (about 60 km) along the sea goes through coastal dunes towards Noordwijk, a very nice neighboring town. You can also stroll along a huge sandy beach. Both towns are small and very clean, and the area around them is perfect for fans of hiking or jogging. Although one classic said that summer on the North Sea is a caricature of southern winter, the air is beautiful here. After two hours of strolling in dunes, we sat in a cafe in Noordwijk and drank coffee, or tea, or the stronger drinks which are so needed by residents of northern countries. We preferred cognac. Then we got back to Katwijk.

A promenade between Katwijk aan See end Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

A promenade between Katwijk aan See end Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

A beach, Holland, the Netherlands.

A beach

One more of Irina’s dreams came true: she visited the Keukenhof Tulip Garden and bought approximately half of a suitcase of new tulip bulbs for our garden. However, I don’t think we’ll go back there. We try to escape places where you feel like you are at a final match of NHL. Too many people.

Tulips from our garden

Tulip 'Red Parrot' from our garden.

Tulip ‘Red Parrot’

A tulip from our garden.

An our Semper Augustus.

An our Semper Augustus.

A tulip from our garden.

If you are interested not only in tulips, I’d like to give you a tip. One week a year, Chateau de Beloeil, Belgium, is decorated by 6,000 blooming amaryllis. In 2018 it was from Saturday 28 April to Sunday 6 May.

An amaryllis

An amaryllis

A tulip Sanne - The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip ‘Sanne’ – The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip Dreamship - The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip Dreamship

A tulip Dreamship - The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip ‘Dreamship’

A tulip Affaire - The Keukenhof Tulip Garden, Holland, the Netherlands.

A tulip ‘Affaire’

Flower river. The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

Flower river. The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, Holland, the Netherlands.

Keukenhof by a dron (2 min.)

More about the Netherlands:

Amsterdam: Free Love, Narcotics, and No One Tulip

37 Responses to “Keukenhof: Legendary Garden of Tulip Country”

  1. Bulldog Travels Says:

    Magnificent. Have you ever seen the tulips at Giverny? They are amazing too! You must take your wife during tulip season. They have some pretty impressive specimens too. Really lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Debra Kolkka Says:

    We visited a few years ago and loved the gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ralietravels Says:

    We were on one of those big tour busses, and you are correct about the crowds. But you managed to make some beautiful photos anyway. Before going, I imagined large beds of tulips. I had no idea how beautiful the setting and compositions were. So we loved it despite the crowd and only wish we could have had more time there. I would love to do it the way you did it, staying close by with a car.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cbartazo Says:

    incredibly gorgeous! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Frank Says:

    Beautiful Victor, judging by your photos there are no people anywhere.
    We were just in Singapore where they had a tulip exhibition sponsored by KLM. It was packed and I felt like I’d rather die than be there. Beautiful, but I’d rather sit at my computer looking at posts like yours 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pam Says:

    Spectacular flowers! I’ve always wanted to see those tulips. Your garden tulips are gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Brad Nixon Says:

    Stunning photography, as always, combined with your thoughtful and detailed reportage. Thank you for including the notes and photographs of the dunes and beach, for additional perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. wordsfromanneli Says:

    It’s a miracle that you got so many beautiful photos with all those people. I could see them in the distance in some of the photos. Horrible crowds. But the flowers are exquisite! Wonderful post, Victor.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Andrew Petcher Says:

    I once lived in the town of Spalding in UK which was famous for its tulips.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sue Slaght Says:

    So much beauty in one post Victor. Love the drone video but your photos outshine those images. The river of flowers as the lead is a tremendous image. I’m very interested in that gorgeous bike path as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Victor Tribunsky Says:

      The same words Irina, my wife, said when she saw this post the first time: How much beauty in such a small post. She is the author of most of the pictures, and she thanks you, Sue.

      Strolling along this promenade, we mentioned you a couple of times: Sue and her husband would be happy here. The Netherlands is paradise for cyclists.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. thebritishberliner Says:

    Love! Love! Love, your photography Victor! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Aca Says:

    Also went to visit Keukenhof around may and it was too crowded I couldn’t really enjoy it so we ended up just hunting tulip fields around the area

    Like

  13. Amy Says:

    Oh what a beautiful tour of the Keukenh of Tulip Garden! Thank you so much for including the historical information and the video, Victor.

    Liked by 1 person


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