As the weather turns cold and we head into winter, now is the time to look forward to the new year and start looking at places we can visit in 2021, even if the COVID-19 restrictions are still in force. One of Europe’s most glamorous spring-time events – which inspires trade visitors, tourists, gardeners, and florists from around the world – is the spectacular display of bulbs and flowers at Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam.
The 2021 floral masterpiece, in its seventy-second year, opens 20 March 2021 running until 9 May 2021. The annual flower parade is due to be held 17 April 2021.
Located in 50 hectares of parkland in the 240-hectare Landgoed Keukenhof Estate, you can see a myriad of colour from the 7 million bulbs planted each autumn by a team of 40 gardeners. The park – dating from 1857 – was designed by father and son Zocker, landscape architects from Harlem who created a beautiful parkland in an English landscape style. The gardens around the Castle – built in 1642 – was selected by a group of bulb growers and exporters in 1949 as an ideal location to showcase the flora from the Dutch flower industry. Today, the annual event is supported by 100 bulb growers who donate their bulbs free of charge and 500 growers taking part in the various flower shows. Over the eight-week period that the Keukenhof Gardens are open, around 1 million visitors will come to view the exciting new displays. The designs change annually, influenced by the bulbs that suppliers want showcased, and the bulbs selected will bloom throughout the period.
As you walk through the grounds you will see fantastic inspirational displays of bulbs planted en-masse, providing ideas of how bulbs can be used in your own garden or inside space. From the English landscaped parkland with its 2,500 trees of 87 different varieties providing different views and exciting vistas, you can explore the renovated Japanese country garden or the natural garden with its shrubs and perennials planted with naturalised bulbs. The historic garden pays homage to the tulip for which the Netherlands is now so famous; you will be able to see old varieties of tulips and learn about the bulb’s origins prior to their arrival in the Netherlands in 1592 when Carolus Clusis brought in the first bulbs. If you have a woodland garden and are looking for ideas on what to plant in a damp, woodland environment, the Molenbos (Windmill Woods) is the place to look. The windmill dates back to 1892 and was brought to Keukenhof in 1957. A sculpture garden also showcases the work of a network of artists with 100 pieces, in a variety of styles, on display.
There are various pavilions located in the grounds, home to a wide selection of flowers and plants in a profusion of colours and shapes. The exhibitors compete fiercely to be selected by a panel of experts to be chosen as the premier flower entry in each category.
For lovers of orchids and anthuriums, the 1000 square meter Beatrix Pavilion is the place to see a varied selection of blooms with some 3,800 orchid plants on display. Whilst the Willem-Alexander Pavilion – covering 6000 square meters – has a display of 15,000 lilies from 300 different varieties which are on show during the last week of the event. You will also be able to view a fabulous display of tulips in bloom. The Juliana Pavilion also pays homage to the history of the tulip, how the 17th century tulip mania occurred and gives an insight into the hundreds of different varieties of tulip available today. Florists will love the Oranje Nassau Pavilion where you can see how to use flowering bulbs indoors and create original bouquets using spring bulbs and flowers.
Children have not been forgotten as there is a maze, playground, Miffy house, petting zoo and a treasure hunt, taking in the most beautiful places in the gardens.
Due to the COVID-19 virus restrictions, strict regulations are likely to remain in force during 2021. However, Keukenhof’s facilities have been prepared for the 1.5-meter social distancing in force in the Netherlands. One of the most important measures will be a restriction in the number of visitors allowed per day and entry will be by fixed time slots. Tickets are on sale so simply visit keukenhof.nl to book.
If you are planning a visit to Keukenhof, there are many guided tours originating from the UK. Alternatively fly to Amsterdam and take a bus No 852 which takes 35 minutes or an 858 from Schipol which takes 30-35 minutes.