Keukenhof, the booklet advises us literally translates as ‘Kitchen Garden’.
To our amusement, on the way in, June, ever keen to get her foreign pronunciation right, asked a staff member what this place was called. She was advised ‘Main Entrance’.
This was the first of the gardens to be visited by the Fagus group on their trip to Holland, and according to the brochure it is modestly described as ‘The most beautiful spring garden in the world’.
Beauty there was in abundance, but you had to earn it by running the gauntlet of a fairground organ operating almost immediately inside the entrance – It was not, to my mind an auspicious start.
However, once past it, the plants and planting took over. You have to hand it to the Dutch, because in spite of their clogs and impenetrable language they know how to plant and what to plant. They also seem to know how many to plant and the figure that they have in mind is 7 million bulbs in this garden – every year.
I think that the gardener must work some overtime.
Paths meandered through trees, and around and across lakes with spectacular plantings pretty much permanently in view. The garden only opens for a few months each year and was due to close at the end of May, but with care and attention by the gardeners the show of tulips and other spring flowers remained a joy.
The Garden’s highlight described in the brochure as the ‘The world’s largest lily show’ represented the grand finale to the season. This was held in one of the pavilions and on entry I was quite prepared to believe their claim. There were lilies everywhere in all colours, shapes and sizes, all in prime show condition displayed in styles some of which you just don’t see at Chelsea.
Another pavilion housed orchids in abundance. This was slightly off putting because I think that it doubled as ‘ladies fashions’ and at one stage I found myself surrounded by orchids and ladies dresses. It was a bit like my being in M&S looking for a pair of socks, only to realise that I had taken a wrong turn and ended up surrounded by ladies underwear and slightly worried glances.
In another part of the pavilion, I personally would not have even considered displaying orchids in a kitchen environment, with orchids in half-open kitchen drawers, in the sink, on a work surface, peering out of a cupboard, and hanging from a shelf. Truly bizarre, but they looked marvellous.
Further round the garden there was a windmill where the public could go inside and climb to a platform part way up to get a more panoramic view. A lady next to me on the platform, not a Fagus member I might add, commented to her husband ‘From up here you can look down there’. I could only conclude ‘How very perceptive’
In spite of the above, I suggest ‘If ever you have a chance to visit Keukenhof – take it’ – you will be impressed.