Garden Destinations: Holland’s Annual Spring Garden Party

When you think of Holland what comes to mind? Bulbs of course. And possibly the Keukenhof. The Keukenhof in spring has always on my wish list (who doesn’t want to see 32 hectares planted with 7 million flower bulb?). And then there is Floriade, a 6 month long extravaganza that is staged only once every 10 years. In April my dream came true when I travelled with one of Donna Dawson’s garden tours (  Not only did we enjoy the Keukenhof and Floriade, but there were a few surprises along the way. Here’s a little pictorial review:


The world famous Keukenhof (22 March to 20 May 2012) has been one of the most popular destinations in the Netherlands for sixty years. Words can’t sufficiently describe the beauty of 4.5 million bulbs that create gorgeous rivers of colour covering 32 hectares. Photos of the bulb gardens don’t do the real thing justice and even though it rained on and off during my visit it did not matter, the raindrops just made the blooms that more beautiful.



Officially is referred to as an exposition, but perhaps the Olympics of Horticulture would be a more apt handle for this 6 month long event (it runs until October 7th).  With dozens of countries participating in 5 unique areas, each offering pavilions and exhibits with displays and activities to reflect their theme visitors are served up a horticultural smorgasbord. Yes, plants and flowers feature prominently and they are at their party best for visitors.  The park has been planted with 3,000 trees, 1.8 million bulbs, 5,000 rose bushes and 190,000 perennials. As the season progresses the grounds will be ablaze in waves of colour and texture creating an ever-changing landscape over the next 6 months.

Het Loo Palace Gardens

The gardens at Het Loo are an excellent example of a formal 17th century garden. Not a leaf is out of place.  Parterres are grouped around a central axis and these are planted with closely trimmed box hedges in decorative scroll patterns reminiscent of fine embroidery.

Appleltern Garden Inspiration Park

What a delightful surprise this place is. More than 200 small offer tons of inspiration that makes you want to go home and revamp your own garden. A walk through the 15-hectare park is an experience for all your senses. I left happy with more ideas than I’ll ever be able to implement!


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