While studying in France in 1979, I visited Holland’s Keukenhof Gardens, southwest of Amsterdam just outside the little town of Lisse, with friends. It is the largest bulb flower park in the world and I promised myself I would return one day with Joe. My personal pledge was at long last fulfilled on our Gap Year stop in the lovely land of tulips.
Flowers make me happy. I like being near them, planting them, nurturing them (I inherited my Dad’s penchant for gardening, or maybe it was the hours I spent puttering around the yard as a child with him) and I love to simply look at them. I take the expression, “Stop and smell the roses,” as not just a metaphorical suggestion to slow down but as literal counsel to behold, sniff and delight in blossoms wherever I can find them. Now that spring has arrived, I couldn’t wait to return to Keukenhof (Dutch for kitchen garden), in my opinion one of the most beautiful places on earth, with its full palette of tulips and jonquils, daffodils and hyacinths, in full splendor. The garden features blooms from more than seven million hand-planted bulbs that burst into a kaleidoscope of color for just two months a year, from mid-March to mid-May. In many instances, memory tends to magnify, but such was not the case with my recollections of the beautiful spring gardens I’d experienced over 30 years ago. The gently rolling landscape blanketed in patterns of flowery color and scented with their perfume was as delightful as I’d remembered. Towering beech trees filtered the sunlight and blossoming fruit trees lining the footpaths around the central ponds provided delicate whites and pinks that offset the swaths of ground level brilliance. After a several hour visit, Joe agreed that yes, Keukenhof was indeed a charming, beautiful sanctuary and even though he will never be able to distinguish a narcissus from a rose, now believes that flowers can indeed make one happy.
Pictures of our adventures: http://gapyeargirlgoestoeurope.shutterfly.com