Keukenhof Is The Heartbeat Of Spring

Dutch people our age might say that Keukenhof is only for the very young and the very old, and tourists. As much as that might be true, Keukenhof's luster is not lost for us yet. Keukenhof is for dreamers, scientists and artists; Keukenhof is the heartbeat of spring. 

Open for only eight weeks, Keukenhof is a sculpted garden of more than seven million tulips, hyacinths and daffodils. Orchids, anthuriums, lilies and other plants can be found in bright, sunlight pavillions. The theme for 2016 is "The Golden Age," during which the Dutch experienced a period of abundance in exploration, arts, science and trade, especially of the coveted tulip.

Expect crowds. We visited this year on a grey day and we still found some quiet moments, but truthfully the people are part of what makes the garden come alive. If a tulip grows in the garden and no one's around to appreciate it, has it actually bloomed at all? Tiny voices cry out for ice cream, giggling girls pose with bunny ears and wide grins and couples sashay down winding pathways like there's no one else in the world but each other.

For every floating ipad that ends up in your otherwise perfect photo, there's evidence that it takes more than just a bunch of flowers to bring this garden to life. 

Don't miss the historical garden, a quiet oasis in the middle of the park that neatly shows off 400 years of tulip cultivation in the Netherlands. Tulip varieties from the 17th and 18th centuries can be found here, living relics of a tumultuous past.

It's hard to imagine so many types of flowers, let alone so many varieties of tulips alone. As much as I enjoyed the flowers themselves, I had a lot of fun just taking in the names. Anyone can find a flower with a name that means something to them - red "Maureens" (for my mom), orange "Ballerinas" (for Brian's mom), creamy "City of Haarlem" hyacinths for the place we now call home. Lots of Canadian cities have their own tulip. I didn't find the "Edmonton" tulip, but I did find "Calgary," "City of Vancouver," and "Ottawa."

The landscaping is exquisite, but it's difficult not to get lost in the details. Frayed edges, crumpled tissue paper petals, tendrils of colour hug snuggly and smoke out softly. Take a good, long look for the mind's blurry watercolour memory of spring 2016.

Tulip mania is alive and well in the Keukenhof, and it's here to stay. Until May 16th, of course, when the Keukenhof closes for the year and the fields are stripped one by one of their blooms. While Canadians debate whether they dare to plant their gardens just yet, in the Netherlands, spring is almost over, summer is almost here.

~ Erica