We planned our vacation in Amsterdam to see the flowers of Keukenhof near the peak in mid-April. Keukenhof has 7 million bulbs planted on 32 hectares (79 acres), with more than 100 participating companies showing off their flowers and landscaping among canals, trees, and lawns.
Most of the flowers are outdoors, and we wanted to spend that day outside in good weather. Our first day in Amsterdam was sunny, so we went to Keukenhof. We caught a bus from Leidseplein to Schiphol Airport and transferred to a bus to Keukenhof, arriving at 9:15 am before the crowds.
Above, the far corner of Keukenhof has a windmill and drawbridge, both iconic images of the Netherlands, where much of the land has been rescued from the sea with dikes, canals, and windmills to pump out the water.
The windmill provides a view of the drawbridge, canal, and a small boat.
You can pay for a boat ride through tulip fields, but we walked around instead.
From a Keukenhof exhibit, we learned that “most tulips originate from the mountains between Turkey and China. They are used to cold snowy winters and hot dry summers.” “The sultan gave some tulip bulbs to an Austrian ambassador who passed them on to the Dutchman Carolus Clusius who planted the first tulip bulbs in Holland in 1593.”
This year, visiting Keukenhof on April 13 was too early for many tulips. 😦 Several Kaufmann tulips were in bloom on April 13.
But we were too early to see most of the tulips. This double early tulip had barely begun to bloom.
Tulips planted indoors were farther along.
My wife liked this tulip with curly petals.
This isn’t a tulip, but we still liked it.
To photograph a planting of flowers, I used a wide angle lens closed down with the focus set to near the hyperfocal distance, so that the foreground and background are all in focus.
Tips for visiting Keukenhof:
- Get there early before hundreds of tour buses disgorge their passengers, to feel that you have the place to yourself
- Go on a nice day. You’ll be outside most of the time.
- Pack a picnic lunch
- Buy your admission ticket online to skip the ticket booth line
- Use a map. Keukenhof is huge. We took a picture of a map on our phone and used that map to see areas we hadn’t seen.
- Visit after mid-April to see the tulips at their peak
- Bring a wide angle lens if you want to photograph an entire bed of flowers
- Flower beds generally have a sign with the name of the flower. Include the sign in your photo to record the flower name.