De Keukenhof

Wow, so I had to take a week off from blogging to go through all the pictures that we took from this half-day trip. I also made the switch to a photo editing tool for adults, so compensating for my under- and over-exposed photos is taking some extra time while I get used to all the new.

Anyways, this is going to be a post all about flowers! We came to The Netherlands specifically because it was tulip season and specifically because our mothers travel vicariously through us and would get a kick out of it. So get out the Allegra and stay close, I have a lot to share with you!

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We’re listening!

Out in the middle of nowhere Holland (which is only twenty minutes by bus, incidentally) is a park that is only open for two months out of the year: Keukenhof. Billed as the “Garden of Europe”, it is used as a showcase for all the Dutch flower growers. Your mom probably remembers the Keukenhof catalog; we ran into a mom from America here who didn’t realize the connection until she saw the sign at the gate.

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Keukenhof – where everyone fancies themselves professional photographers. I suppose I have to include myself in this list 🙁

Yes, this is that Keukenhof.

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Daffodils are also well represented

Several acres of paths wandering over hills and around ponds, where the local tulip farmers have carefully planted their best bulbs. The garden is only open two months out of the year, and what’s in bloom depends on the weather as much as when you happen to get there. Apparently, only two or three days out of the season will the entire garden be in bloom.

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Some sections only had buds, with a few blooms. Also, I’d like you to notice the two different colors of grass. They were cut to the same height, so I really have no idea how they do that. Paint? Careful seeding?

It felt like we were about a week early.

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To call this a garden is really a bit… incomplete. Only the Dutch could pull off a flower-themed theme park, but they have fountains…

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The gardener is probably ticked that he’ll never be able to get this dandelion out of his garden

…sculptures…

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Birds on a tree (this was my favorite)
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Rooster riding in a pigeon-wagon?
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Onions? Marshmallows? Or maybe flower bulbs…

… and even a calliope. This one has wooden whistles and animatronic ladies ringing bells. It plays such classic hits as New York, New York and quite possibly the whitest version of Macarena I have ever heard.

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Toot, toot-toot-toot, toot-toot-toot, Macarena

You can even buy a CD of these and other hits for only 10 Euros.

And of course, what park in Holland would be complete without a windmill?

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They had painted wooden clogs of all sizes as well, but you all know what those look like.

Most importantly, they had flowers. Thousands of varieties, as long as you like tulips, daffodils, and hydrangea.

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Even on a super cloudy day, the colors were vibrant!

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The Wizard of Oz must be at the end of this row

We wandered the paths, stopping occasionally to take pictures. I couldn’t believe how good everything smelled; every flower bed smelled like a florist’s.

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This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to being able to smell colors.

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Every time I look at this picture, I can smell tulips:

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Don’t worry, I can keep going…

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Three petals, four sides. Wait, what?
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Deep sea fangly tulips
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These remind me of peaches, for whatever reason…

Of course, they have more than just tulips…

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keukenhof-tree-blossom-3wSorry gang, I spent a lot of time on these so I want to show them off.

Alright, so in keeping with the theme park motif, The Keukenhof even has a boat ride. You and thirty or so of your closest friends all pile into a boat and go for a ride on the canals that surround the flower fields that surround the park.

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We found fields as far as the eye can see, awash in colors of red, orange, yellow, blue, and pink. But mostly yellow. I remember Mom’s daffodils blooming first as well.

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All these flowers will be mowed down and composted; not one will be sold. If they’ve bloomed, it’s too late. Instead, these fields are growing tulips and daffodils for the bulbs. If the bulbs are allowed to flower, the bulbs themselves will grow, which can later be separated and the process repeated.

I realized that I had no idea how one turns tulips into more tulips, until today.

also learned that in their heyday, tulips were ridiculously expensive – like, $3000/bulb expensive. Special pottery was designed to show each tulip individually, because odds were good you couldn’t afford a whole bouquet.

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So, there you have it. The Keukenhof. Well worth the trip, as far as I’m concerned. If you’re not sick of flowers by this point (I sure am), here’s one last picture for you:

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