Spring weekend in Amsterdam adds just that to your step, a spring. Especially when the destination for a family day trip is to the most beautiful spring gardens in the world, Keukenhof. It is situated in the small town of Lisse, the Netherlands, in the “Dune and Bulb Region”. Keukenhof means ‘Kitchen Garden’ in Dutch. In the 15th century, countess ‘Jacoba van Bieren’ went to these fields to gather food for the kitchen of their castle. This park opened in 1950 and is now a permanent exhibition that has grown in fame attracting millions of tourists from all over the world. For Indians, this is definitely a favourite – what with the association of the quintessentially romantic pair of Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha in the Bollywood movie Silsila as they sang Dekha Ek Khwab, gazing into each other’s eyes.
Events and activities, food and music trucks, lunch cafes, Tulip bulbs and souvenir shops, boat rides into the bulb fields, ducks in the ponds, fountains, drift wood sculptures, energies of happy young kids and happy pets – not to mention the showers and sunshine alternating through the day – added to the colour and beauty of the gardens – if that’s at all possible. The riot of colours that’s caused by the million blooms.
A couple of tram rides to the ‘lookout’ and then an hour’s bus ride on the HopOnHopOff was a journey into 32 acres of total beauty.
- Tulips are not Dutch. Yes, learned that! They are from Turkey and were brought to Leiden in 1594.
- The bulbs were received as a gift by Carolus Clusius.
- He planted some bulbs in the botanical garden of the Leiden University.
- The flowers were so beautiful that they became very popular.
- In the 17th century, Tulips were so popular that people started speculating on it. So much so that it is said that some of the rarer species of Tulip were sold in exchange for a house.
- When the first economic bubble faced the world’s first stock market crash, many people went bankrupt because of Tulip mania.
- Tulip was one of those people who was painted by Rembrandt in the famous painting: The anatomy lesson of Dr. Tulip. He was the mayor of Amsterdam, one of the wealthiest people of his times and had changed his name from Claes Pieterszoon to Nicholas Tulip.
Tulip facts – enjoy!
– Tulips bloom in April and May.
– The crowns are cut off, the bulb stays in the ground and multiply.
– In July and August they are taken out of the ground.
– Half of these are exported and the other half are re-planted in October to reproduce for the next spring.
– The Netherlands is a global trendsetter and a leading innovator in green house technology.
– Holland has 52% market share of the world wide trade in floriculture products.
Kukenhof is an initiative of a group of bulb farmers. About 7 million bulbs are planted here by 100 flower bulb companies and a team of 40 gardeners toil here for the whole year. Add to that a restored, functioning Wind mill to climb up to and gaze at the tulip fields all around and several pavilions of glass houses of Orchids, Anthuriums, Lilies and cut flowers. The Mondrian garden was a surprise incorporated in the gardens that I enjoyed with its colour patches in squares. This park is totally worth marking your calendar for next April/May. The crowds are worth braving into for it blooms for only a few weeks while you hum along … door tak nigah mein hain gul khile hue (in Hindi, which means where flowers can be seen in bloom till afar – from the song in Silsila.)
Leaving you to sing along: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OzmVW7-7gQ).