A bouquet of rainbow colours

A bouquet of rainbow colours

In full bloom

They say a picture is better than a thousand words. There are also places that are better than their own pictures. Keukenhof, the tulip garden in the Netherlands, is a great example.

Floral : The tulip garden in Keukenhof, Netherlands.

I am a diehard Amitabh Bachchan fan. One of the scenes ever etched in my memory is that of the beautiful song sequence in Silsila, which was shot in a tulip garden. I was not sure if I would ever get to see this enchanting garden.

An opportunity came last spring when my son and I accompanied my husband on a lecture tour to Leiden. With my husband busy with his lectures, I thought of taking off with my son for a day to Keukenhof.

Keukenhof, we gathered, literally meant ‘kitchen garden’. It was a herbal garden for the kitchen of Jacqueline, the countess of Hainaut, in the 15th century. The castle from that era still stands today near the garden.

The garden in its present form was founded in 1949, by the mayor of Lisse, a nearby town southwest of Amsterdam. The initial idea was to exhibit flowers grown by farmers.

This eventually helped the Dutch flower industry grow. Today, it is recognised as the largest flower garden in the world with a whopping area of 32 acres upon which, close to seven million tulips are planted every year.

Keukenhof had more flowers than just tulips — there were also daffodils, hyacinths, azaleas, hydrangeas and narcissi, and there were a number of greenhouses which showcased a large variety of orchids. It was, however, the colours, smell and sight of tulips that overwhelmed the visitor to the garden.

Rows after rows of tulips of all hues of rainbow colours swayed in the gentle breeze and welcomed us. There are a few lakes inside the garden with swans floating on them.

It was right out of a picture postcard. The flower patches were surrounded by grassy lawns and canals, whose waters reflected the thousand colours. There was a windmill at one end of the park. As there was a bit of wind that day, the fan wheels rotated in a graceful, languid motion.

After a few hours of strolling around, we went to visit an art gallery inside an auditorium in the garden, as the open grounds had become windy and cold by then. There were artists from all over the world, who were busy painting, sewing and selling their crafts.

There were tulips on cushion covers, bedspreads, table cloths, napkins, curtains and tea cosies as souvenir options. I bought a few wooden flowers for my living room.

A poor substitute, I know, for the unforgettable sight of the countless flowers. But, whenever I pass by them at home, they remind me of a memorable afternoon spent in
Keukenhof.

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