Admire the Netherlands’ Blooming Tulips from Home

Flower enthusiasts will want to watch the latest video tours from the world-famous Keukenhof gardens.

Photo: Mschiffm/Pixabay

Springtime in the Northern Hemisphere has well and truly arrived, but with Europe under lockdown and hundreds of millions across the continent sheltering indoors, it just isn’t possible to visit the Netherlands’ famed Keukenhof. Located in the town of Lisse, less than an hour’s drive southwest from Amsterdam, the 32-hectare park is one of the world’s largest flower gardens and a major seasonal draw, attracting as many as 1.5 million visitors last year.

The meticulously landscaped grounds are planted with about 7 million flower bulbs each fall, with around 800 varieties of tulips on display as well as a host of other flora. The Keukenhof’s annual two-month-long flower exhibition was originally slated to open on March 21 and remain accessible until May 10, those plans have been scuppered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. March 23 saw the Dutch government banning all public gatherings until June to prevent the spread of the disease, the gardens have been shut for the entire period. In response, its owners have recently launched digital tours titled “Keukenhof Virtually Open,” a series of videos with new content posted every few days on the Visit Keukenhof Youtube channel.

Keukenhof has a fascinating backstory: it gets its name from the time it served as the 15th-century kitchen garden for nearby Teylingen Castle, and eventually became the country estate of Adriaen Maertensz Block, a key official who oversaw the operations of the Dutch East India Company in colonial-era Jakarta. (His large manor house still stands.) Much of the current layout dates to 1857, when the gardens were redesigned in an English style, though Keukenhof opened to the public only in 1950.

Given the risk of contagion in these extraordinary times, it makes sense for Keukenhof to move its flower viewing experience online, making sure that the hard work of its 40 gardeners will still be seen by a global audience. You’ll get to marvel at a riot of hyacinths, daffodils, and celebrated tulips through video tours conducted by gardeners and other on-site staff members as they introduce some of the park’s most beautiful sections. And since mid-April is typically peak viewing time for tulips, expect lots of colorful new videos over the coming days.

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