Keukenhof 2011

DSCF1376.JPG We’re back in mainland Europe, for a couple of weeks.

Our route to Belgium takes us past the bulbfields and the Keukenhof Gardens, and we just had to come back and see how things are growing there. This is a bit later on than our visit last year. No more acres of hyacinths and tulips, just a few strips of alliums and a lot of resting soil. But the gardens themselves were still a spectacular riot of colour against a backdrop of beautifully maintained textures and forms.

DSCF1346.JPG The light is amazing, dappled shade through trees with curtains of sunlight, dazzling bright open spaces, sparkles of light on water, azure blue through the myriad shades of green in the canopy. From mid-morning to the height of the afternoon heat we watched the light intensify, and the garden change with it.

DSCF1264.JPG Of course there were still tulips and hyacinths on display, mostly cleverly brought in on palets then strategically placed to form passageways along the paths, or to replace colour in some of the larger planting schemes. We were amused by the occasional rogue – the one red tulip in a bed of vibrant yellow, a bright pink anemone in a sea of blue.

DSCF1261.JPG The theme this year is German poets and philosophers, and of course we had to have our photos taken in front of the great gardener himself.

Interior displays of begonias, hortensias and – being prepared as we were there – the biggest show of lilies in the world. There’s something odd about lilies, they are fascinating and beautiful, but also ever so slightly repellent, almost grotesque.

DSCF1273.JPG Outside, a magnificent array of hostas doing that ground-cover-in shaded-areas thing they do, only on a huge scale. Avenues of rhododendrons and azaleas. Grinning pansies, abundant fronds of flimsy lavender wisteria. Pleached and espaliered trees in the walled garden. Box shaped and formed into mounds and waves with a seeming life DSCF1384.JPG of their own. Colour coordination in pinks and peaches, contrasting lilac and orange, red and blue. Textured background of pines and laurels highlighting the colour and form of tulips and alliums in the foreground. Oh, and some cheeky ducklings who’ve learned pretty fast that if you do cute things in front of tourists having their lunch they will generally share some of it with you.

DSCF1246.JPG A lovely day. We took hundreds of photos. Here’s a selection.

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