Spring is one of our favorite times of the year. The cold days and short nights are a fading memory as the plants come back to life. I have allergies to pollens so the news is not all good, but Claratin is my friend in this season. We have a great camera and a natural subject for any photographer is flower. Next week, despite my apprehensions of going to ground zero of a pollen explosion, we are going to journey to the Garden of Europe in the Netherlands: Keukenhof.
What is Keukenhof?
Keukenhof (which is “kitchen garden” in Dutch) is a 32-hectare acre park that is home to about 4,500,000 tulips. I think I must be crazy to go there with millions of tulips releasing pollen aimed at my nose! The park was used as hunting grounds in the 15th century and was source of herbs for the Countess of Hainaut’s castle.
The garden was created in 1949. The garden was designed to help show off the Netherland’s flower industry, which is the world leading exporter of flowers. It quickly became the world’s largest flower garden and has been for the last fifty years. It is only open for about two months. The park is open this year from March 24th until May 20th. The last week will have the world’s largest indoor lily exhibition. The 2011 theme is Germany, Land of Poets and Philosophers.
What can you do at Keukenhof?
There are 15 kilometers of walking trails. Make sure you don’t walk on the grass. There are roughly 1 million visitors in two months. Many of them visit on the weekends, so try to plan your visit during the week. Mid-April is the ideal time to see the tulips in their full beauty.
There are “whisper boats” with electric engines that can take you on a 1-hour tour. The Keukenhof web site says you can get the best photographs from the boat, but I think if you have a good DSLR camera, you’ll be better pictures if you walk and can get very close to the flowers. 12 swans are released for the two-month period so perhaps the boat ride is a good way to get close to a swan.
Cycling is permitted so bring your bicycle if you’d like to. There are bicycle rentals if you don’t want to bring your own bicycle. You are limited to cycling outside of the park. There are lots of beautiful flowers to see on the cycling routes, but you’ll have to stay on foot inside of the park.
The annual Flower Parade will happen on the 16th of April 2011. It is a 40-kilometer parade called the “face of Spring.” It is the most famous parade in the Netherlands. If you miss it in 2011, the next one is April 21, 2012.
I have great trepidation about putting my nose in the middle of 4.5 million tulips at the height of their pollination. I’m stocking up on Claratin and charging my camera and flash batteries so I can enjoy my visit. We should be able to take some spectacular photographs. I think a few hanging in the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center are from Keukenhof. Come and see for yourself. I think it’s worth the trip.
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