Visit to Holland, 7-11 May 2009

tulips

coach

After an early start we took the Eurotunnel to Calais and travelled to Bruges in Belgium, stopping for a quick break. We found the main square and sat in the sunshine sampling the Belgian beer served in traditional long glasses very similar to laboratory test tubes. After resisting the pleasures of the Belgian chocolate, we got back on the coach to travel to Volendam, an old fishing village near Amsterdam. Our hotel was right by the sea and was very quaint and full of paintings done by local artists and famous people who had stayed there.


Next day we headed to Lisse for a visit to Keukenhof. The weather was fabulous and the entrance to Keukenhof was very merry, with a fairground organ playing old songs and staff dressed in costumes at the entrance. Needless to say the tulips (which we thought might have been over, thanks to the warm spring we had had back in England) were abundant and so beautiful, every colour and type, and so well presented.
keukenhof tulipskeukenhof tulips2
We visited the walled garden which still had some daffodils, the pavilions with displays of flower, lilies and orchids. We climbed the windmill, which funnily did not have tulips round it, but daffodils, and just took in the sight of the wonderful landscaped gardens.
flower arrangementorchids

There was also a children’s corner with young domestic animals which could be fed and petted. A wonderful visit.

donkey

Amsterdam next day was interesting, but the city is undergoing major reconstruction and this hampered the beauty of it. The flower market was very interesting, but expensive, with lots of tulip bulbs for sale. Much too late for the current year. We spent a long time just sitting in the sun watching the people and bicycles go by.

cottageSunday was the best day. A morning visit to a very nice man called Mike Leylant (www.leylant.com) who had a gem of a garden with lots of wildlife, the noisiest being the mating frogs in the pond. It just happened to be Mothering Sunday that day, and Mr Leylant wasn’t there to begin with, but some friends of his welcomed us and gave us all drinks and apple pie which Mr Leylant had baked for us himself. There were also plants for sale, so the coach was well loaded after.
In the afternoon we went to Hortus Bulborum (www.hortus-bulborum.nl), set in a village which was also celebrating Mothering Sunday, and it was as though all of Holland was there on a bicycle, holding a well-organised rally. It was so organised that when we were leaving the local police escorted us out of the village. hortus 1
hortus 2

In the garden the tulips were set in a large field, with two very knowledgeable men telling us all about the pollination and breeding of tulips. It was glorious walking along the rows of the tulips.


Monday was back to home, but stopping on the way at the Botanic Garden of Ghent University, Belgium. This had very large well-stocked greenhouses with a huge pond full of giant waterlilies in one. The gardens were very dry and suffering from lack of rain, but nonetheless had quite a few interesting plants, including a good display of iris and wisteria. We then got back on the coach for the long drive home, and left with lovely memories of the gardens we had visited and of course the windmills and bicycles.

waterlilies

Text and photos: Pat Leggett