Thursday, April 3, 2008

7 Million Bulbs at the Keukenhof Garden, the Netherlands

We'd been waiting to visit the Keukenhof Garden for months! Famed for its blooming bulbs and accessible for two months each year, it is the largest garden in the world.

It was a gloomy late March day. We had the first-hand experience of the "Dutch gray sky" so famously depicted in early Dutch paintings. It started to drizzle as we arrived. My spirit was dampened when I found that few tulips were in bloom. There were plenty of crocuses and daffodils--the earliest bloomers. Nonetheless, most bulbs had germinated, helping to foretell the amazing patterns that they would compose on the lawn.

As the temperature dropped in the afternoon, it started to snow. A veteran horticulturist told us that it's a rare sight to see emerging tulips in snow, and it had never snowed in March. Counted as a mixed blessing, we continued meandering through the garden. At last, I got to see oceans of tulips in a greenhouse showcasing the varieties used in the garden--they were amazing and some were larger than life. Few are bigger than the span of a pair of sunglasses! Unbelievable! In addition to the bulbs, Keukenhof is known for its sculptures. A pair of oversize bulbs is my favorite. Upon seeing the photo, a dear friend mistakenly identified them as a pair of ducks' rears (presumably with the ducks' heads submerged in water). Well, there is some resemblance.

Naturally, we took a lot of photos. The trade off of stumbling upon a gloomy day was that visitor traffic was light. The Keukenhof Garden is not to be missed for those who plan to visit the Netherlands in the springs. We'd love to go back, not in March, but in April to catch more tulips.

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