The largest flower garden in the world
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is in Keukenhof, in the Netherlands. Dutch for “kitchen garden”, Keukenhof is also sometimes known as the “Garden of Europe”. Covering 32 hectares, officials estimate that they plant around seven million new bulbs every year.
A castle’s flower garden
Keukenhof was built in the 15th Century to provide herbs for the nearby castle kitchen, hence its name. The land was passed between owners over the centuries until the modern garden was established in 1949 as a place for flower growers from across the Netherlands and Europe as a place to show off new hybrid flower variants. Keukenhof has subsequently been the world’s largest flower garden ever since.
A range of styles
The grounds of Keukenhof contain many different garden styles. Visitors can enjoy a stroll through an English landscape garden, or view the collection of bulbs from rare plants in the Historical Garden. A Japanese country garden provides a departure from the norm with a more “playful”, non-traditional approach. Inside the pavilions, 86 ‘royal suppliers’ show off their finest cut flowers daily. There is also an annual flower bulb market that takes place each October, providing visitors with the chance to take a little reminder of Keukenhof back to their own garden at home.
Annual flower bed theme
Each year the gardens of Keukenhof choose a country around which to theme their spring flower displays. 2013 was the turn of Great Britain, with tulips being used to create huge mosaics of Big Ben and Tower Bridge. There were also a number of British-themed displays inside the Juliana Pavilion, overseen by Keukenhof staff wearing British national costumes, playing bagpipes and reading poetry.
Annual flower parade
Keukenhof also hosts an annual flower parade each May. A 40 kilometre route sees floats covered in flowers travel from Noordwijk to Haarlem, finishing at Keukenhof. The parade is completely free, with spectators lining the entire route to catch a glimpse of the fantastic floral creations as they pass. Keukenhof ticket holders can also get a closer look at each float as they re-enter the garden after the parade.
Visitors to Keukenhof may be disappointed to learn that the garden does not contain endless rows of tulips as might be expected. The garden contains millions of flower and plant varieties, including tulips, but each is restricted to small areas. For the classic view of tulip fields stretching off into the distance, visitors will need to try and stop at one of the private growers in the area.