Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tulip Festival 2011: Lisse and Keukenhof Gardens, Holland

The tulips have become an iconic symbol of Holland. The bulb fields are in Lisse, between Leiden and Amsterdam. The flowering season begins in March with the crocuses, the daffodils, and the narcissi. From April to the middle of May, the hyacinths and the tulips burst in colors like field rainbows.

Imagine how surprised I was to learn, two years ago - during a trip to Turkey, that the tulip originated from Turkey.  Considered a wild flower, it was cultivated by the Turks in Central Asia since 1000 A.D. It's name is derived from "turban."It was brought to Western Europe in 1593 by Carolus Clusius , a famous botanist from Vienna, who was working in Leiden as the director of the oldest botanical Garden, Hortus Botanicus. He was also hired by the University of Leiden to research medicinal plants. His friend, Ogier de Busbecq, who was the ambassador to Constantinople (now Istanbul), sent him some bulbs, as he had seen the tulip blooms in the palace. Clusius planted them, and it was from then on that the tulip became a part of the Dutch landscape.

So much for the medicinal research on the tulip bulb. It became an instant success, business wise, as the neighbors and many others clamored to have bulbs to grow in their own gardens. 

And so, we visited Lisse to see for ourselves.
A field of hyacinths, with it's distinct scent filling the air.
 A field of tulips in a colored, stripe pattern.
 Tulip buds being picked...
 for delivery to the flower markets.
 A painter has set up to capture the tulip fields on the canvass.
 From these fields in Lisse, they go all over the world.

Not too far from the fields is the Keukenhof Gardens - the showcase for the flowering Dutch bulbs and other flower varieties. Come in and see the immense beauty of the flowers in this garden setting.
The Keukenhof Gardens decided on a theme this year  - "Germany: the Land of Poets and Philosophers." It's a tribute to the Germans who make up 80% of their annual visitors, which equates to about 800,000. Germany also happens to be the biggest export market for the bulbs.
The Dutch costume, which is worn by several garden personel, brings an added attraction to Keukenhof Gardens. Visitors take the time to pose and have their pictures taken with the Dutch ladies, as a souvenir of their visit.
Seven inspirational gardens have been created. Each garden measures anywhere from 50 to 120 square meters, with each one evoking a feeling or a trend. In me, it was romantic, sweet, playful, fancy, strong, modern, sculptural, and more that words, sometimes, cannot quite describe.
With crossbreeding, more varieties have been developed. For instance, these tulips have a blend of colors in one flower, instead of just being a plain pink or a plain fuschia pink. 

This is hybridization - where certain properties and characteristics of each variety is studied, to find suitable candidates to crossbreed, to come up with improved results in terms of being pest resistant, suitability for flower arrangements, for garden planting, and in terms of developing a new shape, color, and stem length. For this to be successful, it is important to know the color properties, the flowering period, and resistance to pests of each specie for crossbreeding.

There are classification terms under hybridization.  Cultivars are the types of flowers that have already been created by hybriders. Species are the flower varieties found in nature. Sports are natural mutations that happen naturally, by chance. All the double-flowering tulip varieties are sports.  
 Double petal varieties: "Peach Blossom" & "Willem van Oranje." These ones look like roses from afar. 
 Single petal - "Short Cup Daffodil" with white petals and yellow cup that is red/orange at the edge
 "Double Daffodils" in light peach color
"Double Daffodils" with white and peach/ochre petals and cups that gradually become dark orange towards the edge
 "Holland Queen" and "Rembrandt's Favourite" 
 Hyacinth: "Woodstock" & Anemone Blanda: "White Splendour"
"Tres Chic" & "Claudia" - note the pointed petal shape
 "Pink Dwarf" - a short-stem variety, with curling petal tips
A yellow,  "fringe tulipa." The white one seems to be a stock tulip, just plain, perhaps from the same specie like the first bulbs to reach Holland - this is possibly named "White Marvel."
 Variegated and double petaled tulips
"Exotic Parrot"
 Rows and rows of double-petal tulips in different colors.
 Friedrich Nietzche: "To forget one's purpose is the commonest form of stupidity."

Garden trends reflect our lifestyle. More and more time is spent outdoors, in our gardens, for different occasions or purposes. How we organize our outside environment is an extension of our personality. The use of sculpture and other objects in the garden reflects the artistic and the creativity in us.

 A cherry tree getting much love and affection
 These whimsical art objects made me want to play.
 The gardener is at work.
 The rhododendron, the king of shrubs, lends a hand in varying the height of the flowers in the garden.
To me, this is so romantic!
 Even the bare-leaf trees provide a minimalist backdrop for the colorful flower bed  below, while allowing the sunlight to pass through.
 The predominance of white flowers brightens up the landscape.
 This is one of my favorites - the colors of joy, sweetness, and passion all in one plot.
 There are other flowering trees that complement the bulb flowers, like this pink magnolia tree. 
 Stepping stones on the water
 Daffodils & Tulips
 Tulip: "Casa Grande"

The water element in this garden is refreshing. In Feng Shui gardening, water is the element that allows the flow of the chi - the life force energy. In this grand landscape, the other elements are also present all over, except for an actual fire - unless the sun can be considered as such.
The installation of big sculptural pieces in the garden becomes interactive, as in the case of this arc. I feel like I am being given a grand entrance.
These metal sculptures satisfy the requirement of having a metal element in Feng Shui - symbolizing stillness and serenity.

 Each gardenscape has been individually sponsored by a company - this one is by Unex, Inc.
 Nesting homes for the birds 
 Pink Cherry Blossoms tree
 Graceful white swans add beauty and elegance to the water and gardenscapes - living and moving elements.

Yellow is considered a strong color in landscape designs. In the color wheel, the complementary color of yellow is purple; the analogous colors are yellow orange and yellow green; the triadic color scheme is yellow, red, and blue. 

 This place was simply fabulous! 

There is a store where you can get your supply of bulbs. Do take note of the planting and blooming seasons. 
 If  your walk around the gardens makes you tired or feel hungry, there is outdoor dining that still allows your eyes to wander around. 

Keukenhof Gardens
Dates:  24 March to 20 May 2011
Daily from 08:00 – 19:30.
(Ticket office is open till 18:00).  

There is also a tulip festival going on every year in Istanbul, Turkey. This year they had it from   March 25 to April 15, 2011. If you happen to be traveling that way next spring, this would be something to see. 

And I thought that I had seen many of the most beautiful tulips and other flowers from bulb plants, before! After coming to Holland for the Tulip Festival, I have!  


  1. I enjoyed the walk in the park through your story telling botanical adventure. I just adore flowers & tulips are among my top 5.

    I simply love flowers... they always gift me a boost and brightens my day. Thanks for sharing again.JMVDD

  2. I agree with you. I was saying that when God created his color palette, he tested the different colors, shades, and color combinations on the tulips.

  3. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
    jobs in life Sciences

  4. May is a good time to visit Keukenhof Gardens. For 2013, here is the information of their special events.


  5. I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. Midtown Gardens

  6. Wow, What a Excellent post. I really found this to much informatics. It is what i was searching for.I would like to suggest you that please keep sharing such type of info.Thanks last minute camping niederlande



Related Posts with Thumbnails