Think of a visit to the massive Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands, and the usual image is sprawling fields of mainly tulips, covering dozens of acres in a dazzling display.
And that's definitely there, and we'll be back to it another time. This time, it's the indoor displays that caught my attention and tuned me into Keukenhof's original purpose and history. First the name: Kitchen Garden, named because the land was farmed to produce food for a medieval manor at the site. Later, in the 1630s, one of the heads of the Dutch East India Company replaced it with a grand house, which he named Keukenhof Castle.
So, we go from a garden to a castle, and now a huge flower garden and park named for the castle that was named for the garden. But Keukenhof as we know it today only dates from 1950, when it was taken over by a consortium of bulb growers and flower exporters as a place to show off their wares to foreign and other buyers.
While the eighty-acre site is a top tourism attraction in the Netherlands (it gets 1.5 million visitors a year, all in an 8-week season from March to May while the Rijksmuseum gets 3 million spread over the entire year), the vast bulk of the visitors when we were there were wandering through the fields and paths, and passing by the several pavilions with indoor displays. They missed something worth seeing.
While the outdoor displays feature masses of living plantings, those in the pavilion show off the artistry of flower arrangers and designers who present their company's wares and ideas in a variety of mood-setting arrangements.
Unlike the outdoor displays, these are identified by company names. They also provide a variety of interesting backgrounds for those who wandered in to use for selfies.
Enjoy a fantasy camping trip...it seemed almost ready for Barbie and Ken, or for Lego people...
Some international themes...
Holiday cheer...and a floral map of the world!