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Keukenhof: Business is Blooming

Keukenhof is another Dutch attraction. It's a showcase park established in 1949 to promote the flowers produced by Dutch growers. Spring having come around three weeks late this year, there were fewer tulips out in the open air beds when we visited, but crocuses, narcissi and other earlier flowers abounded. In the huge glasshouse pavilion everything was an explosion of colours.

Image: Keukenhof 1

Keukenhof's origins go back to the 15th century when a castle stood here surrounded by an estate. Herbs were grown for the castle, giving the name "kitchen garden" or "keukenhof".

Image: Keukenhof 2

Jacoba van Beieren owned the estate. She was Duchess of Holland, Zeeland and Henegouwen. In a life of only 35 years she married four times, spent some time in prison, fought a war with a former husband, travelled to England and died of tubercolosis.

In 1857 a landscape architect named J D Zocher designed a park around the castle in English landscape style. Today's park is still based on his plan.

Image: Keukenhof 5

Since 1949 Keukenhof has held 57 exhibitions of flowers produced by Dutch growers in a kind of national trade show. The annual event lasts only for a few weeks as the floral displays bloom and then fade.

Image: Keukenhof

Image: Keukenhof blooms

Image: Keukenhof main pavilion

We were early for this year's tulip displays, though there were still plenty to see. The colder winter had delayed them. In the warmth of the Willem Alexander Pavilion, a large, modern glass house, a very wide range of flowers was well advanced, however. The photos above show only a tiny part of it. There is another photo of one of its entrances to the top right of the park plan further up.

Image: Keukenhof water feature

Art is also on display such as statues in bronze as above left. Fashion accessories and glassware are shown in another pavilion.

Image: Keukenhof

Image: Keukenhof visitors

Image: Keukenhof - gardeners

Thirty gardeners are employed at Keukenhof. Each years they dig up the bulbs ready for new displays to be planted in the autumn, using hundreds of thousands of new bulbs. These are supplied by 90 exhibiting companies, whose names are shown on sign boards alongside their produce.

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