Every spring, tourists from around the globe flock to Lisse, Holland to see the greatest display of spring bulbs in full bloom at the nearly 70 acre display garden simply known as Keukenhof.
Dutch tourism authorities state that Keukenhof is host to nearly 800,000 tourists annually that visit during the months of March, April and May. Keukenhof visitors from the United States make up about 20% of the attendees, and W. Atlee Burpee has representatives in attendance each year evaluating bulb performance, looking for new varieties and mixing with gardeners, finding out what colors and styles interest them. Besides the formal and natural gardens planted with 7 million donated bulbs from Dutch growers, Keukenhof also has 12 indoor flower show halls, interactive displays for young visitors and formal flower judging by amateur and professional breeders and designers who submit their most interesting products. Each year additional themes are added to the display, and a wonderful theme in 2010 was the patio bulb garden where bulbs were planted around various realistic patios. Past themes focus on various topics including the Beijing Olympics, New York's Founder Henry Hudson and various countries that have strong relationships with Holland.
Keukenhof was started in 1949 by Dutch bulb growers who presented their vision to the Mayor of Lisse, a charming Dutch village south of Amsterdam. The Mayor approached his good friend, Duke Van Linden to use his 70 acre property and with his agreement, Keukenhof was born. The same property that was used in 1949 is used today, a combination of open spaces in full sun to deep woodlands to enclosed buildings.
Keukenhof is the largest marketing effort of any horticultural industry because of the importance to the Dutch economy. Like most industries, production is moving offshore to other continents that offer different growing conditions (less harsh) and cheaper labor. And while production can be moved, what cannot be moved is the passion that the Dutch have for bulbs in producing new varieties from the thousands of traditional flower breeders that call Holland home. There is also quality, the standards set by the Dutch are the highest in the world, and bulbs received from Holland have been grown under the strictest standards created.
While Keukenhof is all about marketing a product, bulbs, the result is inspirational in knowing and understanding the utilization and beauty of bulbs. How bulbs, which unquestionably have the most beautiful color patterns and tones are used in such natural plantings to form the most beautiful showcase in early spring, as all gardens awake to a new year. Nearly every display at Keukenhof can be duplicated in a home garden by planting the various color combinations.
Tourism in Holland is very important to the Dutch economy, and there is competition between the Van Gough Museum, Anne Frank House, Madam Tussauds and the Flower Auction at Aalsmeer but without question the Keukenhof Display Gardens are the number one attraction in attendance, grandeur and beauty.
Please enjoy the visual tour of Keukenhof provided by W. Atlee Burpee.