Following our visit to Kinderdijk, on Avalon Waterways river ship Avalon Luminary, we spent the rest of the morning cruising through the picturesque countryside en route to our next stop, the port of Rotterdam.  Four luxury coaches were waiting at the quayside to take us to view the fabulous Keukenhof Flower Park near the town of Lisse.  The Keukenhof, with its flowering tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, is spread over 79 acres and open during March, April and May each year.  Originally set up as a test bed for Dutch bulb cultivators, each year the park like grounds are transformed into “landscape paintings” with over 7 million flowering bulbs providing a mass of colour.  Tulips make up the majority of the plantings, with over 700 varieties on display.

Entering the gardens, to the sounds of an antique organ, there is almost a carnival atmosphere.  The well laid out landscaped plantings of mainly tulips of all sizes and colours takes your breath away.  Even the grass is something to behold, with the lawns having a separate border of a different grass variety and shade of green.  The four pavilions are named after members of the Dutch royal family and all contain magnificent displays of colourful flowers.  The pavilions also showcase Dutch culture, with displays of traditional dancing by men and women wearing national dress.  A restored windmill has been relocated to the Keukenhof as part of the display.

There are many places to sit and admire the gardens while enjoying a coffee and some Dutch treats such as profitjes, which are served with a chocolate sauce.  I can certainly recommend these.  At the end of May each year, the flower beds and lawns are all mulched.  Planning for the next year’s display starts immediately, as each year there is a completely new design and plantings.  No visit to Holland in the months of March, April and May is complete without visiting Keukenhof, which was possibly the highlight of our Avalon Waterways river cruise.    Sandra T.  ©  

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