Keukenhof: Dutch tulips

Keukenhof celebrates Dutch design in blooming gardens

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For just a few short weeks, the Netherlands comes alive with vibrant colour. Tulipomaniacs flock each spring to Keukenhof to catch a glimpse of the legendary Dutch tulips, a symbol that has endured far longer than the flower’s bloom. [Contributed by Keukenhof]

The window of time to view the flowers is short. Keukenhof is open from late March until May, but the best time to see tulips in full bloom is mid-April. However, there are many other flowers to admire: the garden is renowned for its countless flowerbeds and scenery, drawing in visitors from all over the world each year. And for Keukenhof, 2017 is a year not to be missed.

Keukenhof 2017: a year of Dutch design

“I knew that my local friend was taking me to see flowers, but I had no idea what I was in for!” says Kelly, a visitor to Keukenhof in 2007 and 2012. “The hard work that must go into the design and care of such a beautiful place is truly breath-taking. Keukenhof is one of these remarkable places that I feel like you could visit every year and it would be a new experience each time.” 
Visiting Keukenhof is, in fact, a new experience each time—thanks to the garden’s annual theme. While there are plenty of flowerbeds filled with tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses and other flowers, preparations have been underway for months to unveil the 2017 Keukenhof theme: Dutch Design.  
For this theme, Keukenhof celebrates the Dutch talent of combining innovation with subtle aesthetics, highlighting artists and designers such as Piet Mondrian and Gerrit Rietveld. One of the garden’s centrepieces is the flower bulb mosaic, this year depicting the distinctive primary colours of Mondrian’s most famous work, built with crocuses, muscari and tulips. Designer chairs reminiscent of Rietveld adorn the mosaic, which has been planted in two layers to provide a longer flowering (and viewing) period.  
The Oranje Nassau Pavilion will feature a different floral display each week, all evoking the Dutch design aesthetic; the Willem-Alexander Pavilion will display hundreds of thousands of tulips, while the Beatrix Pavilion, featuring orchids and anthuriums, overflows with unique Dutch-inspired arrangements. And in the Juliana Pavilion, visitors can dive into the history of tulips in the Netherlands. 
Best time to see Tulips (Clarissa Phillips)

Beyond the blooms: events at Keukenhof

Keukenhof hosts multiple events to make the most of the short season. There is always something new at the gardens, tailored to different interests: music, fashion, food, design, culture and more.  
“In addition to enjoying the many varieties of spring flowers, I loved seeing elements of Dutch culture woven through the fields,” says Clarissa Phillips, an American expat and Keukenhof visitor. “Hyacinths and daffodils poked through displays of Delft-blue inspired pottery, we tasted herring while rambling down rows of tulips, and the wooden windmill served as a lookout point for the gardens and surrounding fields.”
Keukenhof will again offer far more than “just tulips”. After opening weekend, which will feature live music, the garden will host a different event each weekend:
31 March–April 2: Dutch Heritage Weekend takes visitors back in time to experience the Netherlands in the 19th century with old Dutch handicrafts, dance, music and costumes.  
7–9 April: The Keukenhof Flower Market gathers flower growers to teach guests how to grow their own garden. Famous Dutch gardener Rob Verlinden will offer his insight on flowers and plants on Saturday and Sunday.  
14–17 April: Bring the kids to Championsheeps, a course of farmyard games at the garden. In addition to the games, children will be awed by the birds of prey shows, where falcons, owls, buzzards and eagles will soar the sky. On Easter Sunday and Monday, the Easter Bunny comes to visit. 
22 April: Watch the floats go by at the Flower Parade, which passes by Keukenhof at approximately 15:30, to see Dutch design in action. 
24–30 April: During Dutch Design Week, contemporary Dutch design takes centre stage.  
6–7 May: Spend an afternoon picnicking in the gardens at the Food & Flower Festival. A fleet of food trucks will arrive at Keukenhof, allowing guests to feast their eyes on flowers and food.   
13–14 May: Reignite that spark with your special someone during Romance at Keukenhof, a day filled with classical music, 19th-century costume, and the opportunity to dance among the flowers. 
20–21 May: Fashionistas unite at the Flowers & Fashion Festival, where guests will see how flora has influenced couture throughout the years. 
Keukenhof: the Netherlands (Clarissa Phillips)

An adventure for history buffs

Beyond the festivals celebrating Dutch tradition, Keukenhof itself is a piece of history. The land was first used for its bounty of herbs, fruits and vegetables for the kitchens of Teylingen Castle, and it is where Keukenhof gets its name—Keukenhof means “kitchen garden” in Dutch.

The Dutch tulip, which saw its heyday in “tulipomania” around the same time that Keukenhof Castle was built, and the countless other flowers did not make an official appearance as part of an open exhibit until 1949, when a group of flower bulb growers and exporters planned the first-ever flower exhibition.  
Since then, the tradition has continued every year. Over eight weeks, Keukenhof opens its doors to show the world what the Netherlands has to offer with its beautiful, remarkable blooms beyond the famed tulips. Keukenhof is so alluring that most people visit more than once—and some even want to stay. 
In the words of Heidi, another garden guest, “Keukenhof is part of the reason why we want to move to the Netherlands.”  
Contributed by Keukenhof


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