GPOD on the Road: Keukenhof

Today Marilyn Regnier is taking us along on a trip of a lifetime, to see the biggest spring bulb display in the world.

A few years ago I was able to visit Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Netherlands. This was a bucket-list trip for me and one I will never forget.

Keukenhof, known as the “Garden of Europe,” encompasses 79 acres, with 7 million spring bulbs showcased by 100 companies. The park is open from mid-March to mid-May each year for its spring flower show.

While the history of Keukenhof dates back to the 15th century, it was 1949 when a group of 20 leading flower bulb growers and exporters planned to use part of the Keukenhof estate as a spring park. The park opened its gates in 1950. This year, 2024, will be the 75th edition of Keukenhof that has developed into a world-famous attraction. While 236,000 people visited the park in 1950, today nearly 1.5 million people visit this amazing showcase of flowers.

At the entrance the bulb display is already incredible. I love how mixing in some taller tulip varieties adds interest and contrast to the carpet of shorter blooms.

A river of daffodils blooms under a canopy of blooming trees. Mixing different varieties of daffodils together like this adds interest and diversity to the display. To get the best effect, combine only varieties that bloom at the same time in each bed so you get one incredible explosion of bloom.

Most of the beds at Keukenhof are planted out in geometric patterns. Here, long ribbons of flowers snake through the garden.

Planting together tulip varieties with similar but not identical flower colors like this makes for a display that feels harmonious and intentional but still interesting and full of detail.

One of the iconic features of Keukenhof is the river of grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum, Zones 4–9) winding between beds full of bright tulips. Grape hyacinths are durable, long-lived perennials. They are also very affordable, so it is entirely possible for you to create your own blue river of these bulbs in a sunny spot at your home.

The tulips at Keukenhof are used almost like paint, splashing the landscape with color.

Planting tulips where they can be backlit by the sun shows them off to their absolute best. As you can see from the crowds in the background, the park is incredibly popular, but it is so well designed that you can walk through and enjoy despite the many people there with you.

Crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis, Zones 4–8) has nodding orange flowers with an unusual tuft of foliage above each cluster of flowers. Here they are underplanted with daffodils to add an extra layer of interest.

We’ll be back to see more of this incredible garden tomorrow.


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