Do dreams come true ? Yes they do . I realize it when we are driving across windmills , pearly rivers, sailing boats, and villages with church spires and tulips fields . My destination is the much famed Keukenhof Garden which started as the small kitchen garden of a 15th-century countess and now bills itself as nothing less than the most beautiful spring garden in the world, designed to showcase the art of Dutch bulb growers. Spilling across 70 acres of wooded parkland and attracting more than 700,000 visitors annually, the garden has nine miles of walking paths that wind around ponds, a windmill, greenhouse pavilions holding indoor displays, and more than seven million bulbs planted three layers deep to ensure a blaze of color for about 8 weeks.
As I approach the Tulip gardens I wonder if there can be more tulips than those in the fields which I had just crossed . At the entrance of the park we are welcomed by the traditionally dressed Dutch couple and an ocean of tulips .Though there are clear directions in this park one gets literally lost as to which shade of tulip you want to admire .
Thousands of tulip variants in every color of the rainbow form a floral carpet . As I wade through meadows and meadows of tulips I stumble upon a tranquil setting of crytal clear pond lined with tulips and daffodils where the majestic trees bow down to kiss the water. I am at loss of words to describe the scenery when I remember William Worsworth’s poem – As lonely as a cloud . I relish both the visual and the poem .
No wonder the classic Dutch painters mastered the art of depicting flowers . I really wish I was an artist but my camera comes handy. I start clicking every possible strech of the tulips, hyacinths, narcissi, daffodils,gladioli, dahlias, and fragrant lilies. My friend starts clicking as I pose for some clicks highly delighted to be amongst this floral paradise.
Marilyn,Blue Heron,Fancy frills,Fringed elegance,Swan wings,Red wings,Burning heart,Monolisa ,Marriette,Elegant lady,Icefollies, Prince carnival – the names of the tulips are as fascinating as the flowers themselves . About 93 percent of all bulbs in the world come from the Netherlands.Over nine billion bulbs are produced annually, one third of which are tulips. These three billion tulips, if planted four inches apart, would circle the globe at the equator seven times!
One other interesting bit of history, which occurred in the early 1600s, was “tulip mania.” This sprang from the tendency of tulips to be infected with a virus, resulting in odd yet often attractive colored streaking in the flowers. These variants, called “broken” tulips, became prized, sought widely, and worth many guilders (money). This led to widespread trading, speculation, and then as most such fads sudden market collapse in 1637. These lovely tulips have remained to this day, however, depicted in the art of the Dutch masters. For this reason, similar ones today with such streaking of various colors yet without any virus are called “Rembrandt” tulips.
The majestic green crowns of the trees create a captivating colorful shadow for an absolutely refreshing walk, while the invigorating smells of these millions of flowers create an unsurpassed fragrance. We see wooden houses that are nestled within the gorgeous colors of the gardens and the narrow pebbly walkways. When I reluctantly leave I vow that I will come back again soon to spend more time in this paradise.
This article was originnaly published in The Traveller Hindu
Getting there : Keukenhof is located in South Holland in the small town of Lisse, south of Haarlem and southwest of Amsterdam. It is accessible by bus from the train stations of Haarlem, Leiden and Schiphol.
Keukenhof is scheduled to be open from 21 March to 20 May 2013.
The best time to view the tulips is around mid-April, depending on the weather.