A visit to Keukenhof for the second year running found a different garden, although the visits were only a week apart. Spring has evidently come later and most of the narcissus and hyacinths were still in full flower. Last year there were very few remaining in flower. The scent from both filled the air.
Even where some of the tulips had gone over they were still exquisitely beautiful – like a Dutch still life painting.
At home my hyacinths have been swept around by the rain and wind, but at Keukenhof they stand firm.
But then I looked closer. Each individual hyacinth has been individually staked, so discretely that it is hardly noticeable! What a labour!
The gardens at Keukenhof in April are quite remarkable. Great rivers of tulips are everywhere. Small exhibitions in the Juliana house give background information to the history and also to the planting practices of this huge venture: 7 million tulips (and other flowering bulbs) are planted each year and each year, at the end of flowering, these are all taken up and crushed to be used as compost around the trees in the garden and made into pulp for the paper which covers the guides to the estate.
As a not-for-profit organisation, in addition to the garden architects, the gardens rely on an army of volunteers. From May onwards the gardens are closed to allow time for the essential work of taking up the tulips and replanting, until reopening for the spring display. The bulbs in each garden area are given to Keukenhof by growers in the Netherlands and the name of the company appears as signage on the beds. For those wishing to make a note of their favourites, tulips are also discretely labelled, although it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormous range on display!