It is only the end of February but here the flowers are starting to pop out of the ground. Sorry to my some of blog readers in the USA that are still knee deep in shoveling snow.
Each year there is a flower fever that starts around the world as travelers who have booked a flower trip to the Netherlands wait (some not so patiently) to board their flight or pack up the car to arrive at the famous tulip fields in Holland.
I know this to be very true, not only as an American who fell in love with the Netherlands flower landscape, but also as a former employee at the world famous spring bulb garden. I worked at the garden from 2010 – 2015. I was the only American during that time that worked at the garden. I cycled to work each day between the bulb fields feeling like I was the luckiest person in the world as the scent of blooming blubs floated on the wind.
I didn’t have a glamorous job at the gardens. First, I worked two seasonal years in the restaurants. Preparing food in the kitchen each day for the influx of visitors from around the world. I learned a lot of Dutch those first two years of working that job!
Then, three seasonal years, I worked mailing out all the tourist information. The mailing process starts in January and ends about the time the park opens the third week of March.
I sat and watched the receptionists answer the phone calls each day as I worked on my mailing tasks. Each lady who answered the phone inquiries was professional, well versed in several languages, and answered the same questions day in and day out about the upcoming season with pleasure. I admired and envied each of them as they quickly and flawlessly changed from one language to another as they answered questions.
I loved working at the gardens. My small job of mailing off the tourist information each year gave me a special inside view into the multi billion dollar flower industry here in The Netherlands. I loved the way people would always smile when they found out I worked at the gardens, then share their memories of what a magical place it was during their visit to Holland.
The work of planning the garden each year and the theme is determined years prior to planting. The entire full time year round team of employees is under 50. That number swells to over 1000 employees temporary seasonal workers when the gates open in March.
Last year the number of tourist that viewed the gardens was over 1 million. The first year I worked at the gardens we had set a record number of over 800 thousand.
Improvements at the gardens the last two years, a new entrance building, parking, and changes within the park have been made to improve the visitor experience.
As you can imagine, the garden is a busy place when the tulips are in full bloom. My recommendation is to get to the garden early, take your time early in the day to hit the high points, then enjoy an early lunch (before the crowds). Pick a nice place to sit and people watch during the busy part of the park day (10am-2pm). If you have the whole day to visit, then walk the gardens again once the tour bus crowd leaves, once again the garden becomes peaceful and enjoyable.
If you are interested in the garden follow the this link to the Keukenhof official website.
Another great resource is the TripAdvisor forum under the Netherlands where there are several participants who specialize answering questions about the garden.
If you have questions or would like additional information please send me a message in the comments and I will reply.
Now, with the flowers starting to bloom in my backyard garden, I know it won’t be long before Spring.
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