Dutch Queen inaugurates 60th annual Keukenhof

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A new tulip variety with red petals and a yellow core, named Spring Garden, was baptised by Queen Beatrix on the opening of the Netherlands’ most famous international flower show.

LISSE – Dutch Queen Beatrix on Wednesday opened the 60th annual international flower show at Keukenhof, the largest bulb garden in the world, by baptising a new tulip variety.

"I declare the 60th season of Keukenhof open," said the monarch as she sprinkled champagne over a bouquet of the new flower type, named Spring Garden, which has red petals and a yellow core.

The 32-hectare Keukenhof gardens in Lisse in the central Netherlands is a popular tourist attraction and claims to be the most photographed spot in the world.

Lying in the heart of "bulb country", between Amsterdam and The Hague, it transforms into a multi-colour feast for the eye every spring when seven million bulbs, among them a thousand kinds of tulip, start flowering.

The gardens, visited by some 44 million people over the last 60 years, will be open to the public for nine weeks this spring, from Thursday to May 21.

"Due to the global economic crisis, we are not sure to match the 800,000 visitors, 70 percent of them foreigners, that we achieved last year," the chairman of the board of Keukenhof, Walter Jansen, told a media briefing Wednesday.

The Netherlands is the world's biggest flower exporter, with a billion Dutch tulip bulbs sold abroad every year.

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of New Amsterdam, later to become New York, by Henry Hudson on behalf of the then Dutch East India Company, the garden is also exhibiting a reproduction of the Statue of Liberty made with 53,000 flowers this year.

AFP / Expatica

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