Ever seen 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths all in bloom? NO?
Nor have I.
But it was probably 5 million 4 thousand, 2 hundred and 73 tulips, daffodils and hyacinths…plus a couple thousand orchids. Even though spring was extremely late here in HOLLAND, our visit to the KEUKENHOF was in one word spectacular!!
Mothers day in Canada, Liberty Day in Holland saw my colleague Tracey and I taking an early bus to the Keukenhof gardens just outside Amsterdam to take in the annual spring splendor.
The Keukenhof opens every spring for 2 months ( between the end of March to the end of May)
Keukenhof is dutch for Kitchen Garden.. it gets its name as the location was originally the castle’s( Slot Telylingen) kitchen herb garden. Baron and Baroness van Palland originally invited garden architects JD and LP Zocher to lay out the castles gardens. They had also designed Amsterdam’s Vondelpark…just 5 minutes from my apartment…a huge city park. Keukenhof was designed in the English landscape style.
The current public gardens were established by the Major of Lisse in 1949. Today the 32 hectares of garden are planted every year by leading bulb growers and suppliers ( 86 of them in fact) They come from surrounding area, which of course is the key bulb growing district of the Netherlands –Lisse. Every weekend different flower exhibitions are featured in the 3 major pavilions. It is a clever commercial for a significant dutch business.
However, it is clear that the TULIP reigns supreme in Keukenhof and continues to be the archetypal dutch flower. The first tulips were shipped to Vienna in 1554 from the Ottoman empire. In 1593 cultivation started in earnest and the dutch found that the plants tolerated the harsher conditions of the low countries. The tulip quickly became a coveted luxury item. It takes 7-12 years to grow a tulip bulb from seed. By 1636, the tulip bulb became the fourth leading dutch export after genever ( dutch gin) , herring and cheese. Prices skyrocketed and speculation on tulip futures was rife. Tulip mania reached its peak in 1636-7 and then the market collapsed in February 1637.
Today of course dutch bulbs continue to be exported across the globe. I saw some of the most amazing colors and varieties while at Keukenhof and hope to bring some home to plant in my cottage garden.
The orchid exhibition we were lucky enough to see was incredibly creative and beautiful as you will see from these pictures.
For 64 years over 52 million visitors have taken in these amazing gardens and exhibitions. Luckily while we saw millions of flowers, our early start ensured we were not surrounded by millions of people.. 4 hours later however, the crowds had followed us and we left having feasted our eyes on the rows and rows of coloured flowers.
If you are in Holland in the spring do not miss this garden!!!
Koning’ Dag Amsterdam April 30th 2013
W for Willem Alexander the new king ‘koning’ of the Netherlands. The preparation and lead up to the day had occupied the hearts and minds of this small land for weeks. Saying goodbye to a beloved Queen Beatrix and welcoming a new king… documentaries, news programs, decorative prep in the city, banners everywhere and stages and tents arising all over the city as the day approached. Dutchies get the day off to celebrate and one can tell this is THE PARTY of the year in Amsterdam ( well this and the gay parade in August apparently).
I got up early in the morning.. excited and just wanting to catch pictures of the final prep.. hopped on my bike and just toured the neighborhood.
Stopped too for some final prep myself…. Picking up an orange cowboy hat and bright orange scarf…. while I am not from Calgary, I knew it would signal both countries I care about ….and would be a big hit with niece Kimmy, who will no doubt be wanting me to send the hat along to her.
I decided that I wanted to take in one of the events at the Dam the square in front of the palace, sooo off I went, joining hundreds of people heading to the centre of Amsterdam to participate as Queen Beatrix put her signature on the abdication documents.
Large television screens and speakers enabled all to see and hear ..and then of course Queen Beatrix, Prince Willlem Alexander, Princess Maxima and their three adorable girls greeted us from the balcony of the palace. A sea of orange responding with songs of ‘bea bedankt, bea bedankt´ …. In translation bea thanks bea thanks.. bea of course referencing their queen ..
I went back home to watch the longer investiture ceremony from the comfort of my own couch, knowing as well I still had a long day ahead of me.. Thoroughly enjoyed the hours of coverage watching the royals from all over the world ( actually the royal princes and princes—no kings, queens or presidents allowed—protocol requires the soon to be king to be the highest ranking persona) it was okay with me as the royal princes and princess were gorgeous and the women wore spectacular gowns.. better than the Oscars red carpet anyday.. well and then again there was old cammilla and old Charlie..they didn’t quite cut it amongst the other ‘royals’ ..they would have been better off to send William and Kate..but no doubt that would not have been allowed..
Just after three, the ceremonies had ended and the noise from the streets and canals below my apartment windows drew me out to join in the festivities.
Well well what a party… orange everywhere, people partying on the street, in cafes, on front porches and of course on boat after boat on the canals.. at times I couldn’t see the water for the boats and partiers on the canals. The sun was shining and all of Amsterdam was out and joining in. I had received instructions from my colleagues at work to head over to NELS in a square in the old part of town and I made my way over ..took me forever of course as every turn and canal bridge crossing had me taking in the noise, the color, the songs and revelry—a very good word to describe the atmosphere. Pictures of course say it best..so feast your eyes on a sampling
Once I finally found the KPMG global group, I naturally joined right in
Some friends have already asked if orange beer was on tap. I guess it’s possible, but as you can see Jane had just returned from Paris and our ‘orange’ beverage of choice was just right for the occasion.
After several bottles I also hoped that the Veuve Clicquot had been a little more accessibly priced on the French market.
The party carried on well into the night!!! It was indeed a day to remember!!!