Feature: a visit to the land of bulbs.

AuthorGonzales, April

Dazzling Blooms Abound in Keukenhof, Holland

Springtime is heralded, often anticipated by the welcome colors of flowering bulbs. Avid gardeners wait for the snowdrops that begin a long season of blooms that continues with dwarf irises, anemones and hyacinths. Daffodils and fritillaria lead up to the main event: tulips in every color of the rainbow (except blue). The appearance of these flowers with their exuberant colors usually makes gardeners only want more.

Fortunately, new varieties are available each year, just when the yearning for new, bigger and more fragrant blooms takes hold. Most hybrids are developed in Holland, and 90 percent of that harvest is exported to the U.S. The springtime displays in that land of bulbs are magnificent and plentiful, tempting many aficionados and collectors to go and see for themselves just where and how bulbs are cultivated, and have a first look at varieties making their debuts. April, when eye-popping tulip varieties and other bulb hybrids are in full bloom, is the ideal time to travel to Holland.

Hybridization has become such an art that the resulting blossoms are themselves art. The latest products of this constant crossing of floral genes are on view at the Keukenhof Bulb Show, an enticing, sometimes overwhelming, display of color and form which will leave you dazzled and addicted. Spread out over approximately 70 acres of an old estate, Keukenhof features bulb vendors from around the world who are assigned a specific area to plant in the fall. They return in the spring for the brief but glorious nine weeks that the show is open to the public.

Rivers of Color

Magically, everything is in bloom at once. Blue hyacinths and muscari are used frequently to offset the hotter colors of the tulips, fritillaries and daffodils. Some areas are planted so that the effect of a well-timed mass bloom can be demonstrated--like a river of white narcissus and blue muscari that seem to flow through a wood. Paler blue Puschkinia libanotica and Narcissus "Toto" have an even cooler effect. An urn full of buttery daffodils with white anemones spilling over the edge is an idea worth stealing. But be careful: What you see may not be what you ultimately get. For example, pure white parrot tulips and hyacinth hollyhocks featured in a display won't, in reality, bloom in unison.

Fortunately, there are kiosks filled with literature and, immediately adjacent to each of the gardens, sales counters with lists of all the varieties...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT