Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Destination: Keukenhof Gardens, Holland

I love tulips. They are my 2nd favorite flower (stargazer lily's are my fav).  So I was quite happy when a friend agreed to accompany me on 30-hour roadtrip to Kuekenhof Gardens, Holland in late April to see the tulips in bloom.   This was the perfect way to spend my bday weekend!

There were fields of flowers everywhere in the area around Keukenhof (called Am Lisse, Holland).  As we were stuck in a massive traffic jam going to Keukenhof, we had plenty of time to take pictures of the fields. 


As it was late April (near the end of tulip season), many of the fields were half-picked.  Migrant workers, many from Eastern Europe, are hired on a seasonal basis to pick the flowers.

The are 36-acre Gardens have 3 sections: 1) a lawn area with gorgeous flowerbeds, 2) a greenhouse for exotic flowers, and 3) rows of planted flowers which will later be picked and sold.  In the lawn area, the gardeners have done an amazing job landscaping.  In between patches of well-maincured grass are beautifully designed flower beds.  There is also a windmill, a play ground for kids, and some animals. 

The gardeners have done a phenomenal job deciding which flowers to plant together.  They all compliment each other nicely.  It is easy to see why this has the #1 photographed flowers in the world (according to the Keukenhof Gardens website).

The 2nd section, the greenhouse, has many exotic flowers that come in interesting shapes & colors... like the flowers below which remind me of pineapples, spiders, starfish, and fireworks.

A good way to see the 3rd section of Keukenhof (the flower fields) is via a 1-hour boat ride on the canal.  If you have more time, I recommend renting a bike, making a picnic, and spending the day biking around the Am Lisse area.

A decent portion of the day was spent looking for good pic locations and posing for pics (this also included trampling flowers to get these pics, as my friend noted).  I needed a new facebook photo (I rarely update mine, and an update was needed).  Keukenhof seemed like a perfect place to take this pic.  The photo below was the runner-up to the facebook photo...

Tips for visiting Keukenhof:
1. Go mid to late April.  Flowers are at their full bloom then. 

2. Avoid being there on weekends.  The last 2 weekends in April have special events going on - 1) the Russian flower market (where 70% of the world's tulips are sold) and 2) the flower parade (lots of floats made entirely of flowers).  These events draw thousands of tourists which really get in the way of picture taking.

3. Spend 1 day biking around the flower fields in Am Lisse (important: bring a picnic lunch, as there are no food stands).

4. Buy flowers while out biking.  Keukenhof sells-out quickly of flowers.  So it's better to purchase the flowers from another location.  If you're looking for a business opportunity, arrange with the 6EUR for 50 tulips suppliers in Amsterdam to sell their flowers at Keukenhof on the weekends in April and take a cut of the profit.

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