The Dutch and their flowers – Keukenhof Garden, Lisse

The Dutch are proud of their flowers, no doubt about that. For such a small country, it is the largest exporter of flowers in the world. The Dutch’s love for flowers is not only an economic asset but is actually deep-seated in the national consiousness. Needless to say, the Dutch are crazy about flowers and gardens. Whole year round, tuincentrum, literally translated as garden centers and flowers shops are constant money earners but during spring and summer, they get crowded like the red light district in Amsterdam.

From where I come from, flowers bloom throughout the whole year so we don’t really pay much attention to flowers. Their value are limited to weddings, gifts to women, burials or when someone is in the hospital. But after living in the Netherlands for three years, I;ve learned to appreciate beautiful flowers – the kind that takes 2 weeks to wilt. As often as I can, keep a vase full of fresh flowers.

However the highlight of the Dutch obession for flowers is in Keukenhof Gardens – the biggest garden in the world. And when they said the biggest, they meant 7 million flowers available for viewing for at least two months every year. It is located in Lisse, South Holland, at least 30 minutes ride from Amsterdam.

Keuken in Dutch means kitchen and in case you are wondering what’s the connection between the garden and the kitchen, the former hunting ground is where Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut’s castle gets her herbs from. Thanks to the former mayor of Lisse, the garden was turned into a world famous tourist spot visited by millions from all over.

Entrance fee is a bit expensive, 14.50euros per person (around 800php) and parking cost 6euros but that’s for the whole day. There are restaurants inside but like any other tourist place, they can be very expensive (and don’t forget you are in the Netherlands.) If you want to save up, head over to the town centre of Lisse where you can have a full Italian meal for two people for less than 50euros. The tulip fields are right outside Keukenhof Garden and if you take bike and ride a bit further, you can have tulip fields all to your self. The crowd can be drive you mad and you have to wait for a turn to have pictures but the beauty around you is all worth it.

This is getting long and I don’t want to even attempt to describe the beauty of Keukenhof. I think these photos are enough. All taken by Robin Kuijs. Please visit his website at Keukenhof is only until May 20, 2012.