Keukenhof Garden

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I had chosen the final week of April for our visit to these iconic Dutch spring gardens as my research had suggested it was the best time to see the tulips in bloom. I had planned to buy a combi bus/garden ticket from Schiphol (858 bus and entrance fee to gardens for 23 euros each or 35 euros for two) but at the last minute, opted for the more expensive coach tour with Lindbergh (45 euros each) as the brochure said it travelled through the "spectacular bulb fields" en route to the gardens.

Sadly, on 30 April 2014, the bulb fields were mostly rows of green leaves and stems, with the colourful petals which had been removed, scattered on the ground. Just one brightly coloured patchwork of flowerbeds in one field hinted at the glory we had missed!

Fortunately, the breathtaking beauty of the gardens themselves made up for our disappointment. They still had many beautiful flowerbeds full of unusual and colourful blooms. I have never seen such variety of curly, frilly, multi-petalled tulips! After we had sorted out a wheelchair for my partner, found the free maps (I was barked at in the shop for merely touching a guide that was NOT FREE!) and worked out wheelchair friendly routes, we just about had time to meander round the accessible pathways, marvelling at the displays and water features before it was time to get back on the coach. Without the time constraints, I would have liked to have taken the boat tour along the canals that ring the gardens and spent more time within the pavilions, but at least we managed to see the ground floor of the fabulous orchid display (no lift up to the first floor).

The gardens are only open for 2 months each spring. I would recommend keeping a close eye on the winter/spring weather and trying to time your visit to maximise your chances of enjoying the tulips at their best whilst the daffodils/hyacinths/narcissi are still in bloom. I suspect mid April would have been the best time in 2014. I would also recommend travelling independently to maximise your time at the park: the three hours allowed by Lindbergh was probably at least an hour too short for us with a wheelchair user and a camera enthusiast. If you are planning a visit, I recommend checking their website to print off a map and see when special events such as flower parades are being run as these create mayhem for travellers and you'll need to plan an early morning arrival. If you enjoy my photos, you can see more in my photostory on Exposure featuring pictures of the gardens.

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