We last visited Keukenhof Garden three years ago in April. The beauty and freshness and colors of the gardens overwhelmed us in the best sense. We vowed to visit again the next April — which was the first April of the pandemic. We vowed to visit the following April, but the pandemic hadn’t let go yet.
When we cancelled our April 2020 trip to Amsterdam and beyond (we had planned on going to Japan and Hawaii), all the hotels and airlines and tours refunded our money — except our hotel in Amsterdam. They insisted on keeping our money, but they allowed us to postpone the reservations. For two years, we felt the anchor of our spent hotel money. We knew that we were going to get ourselves back to Amsterdam and Keukenhof.
During all this time, we sighed with romantic longing fired by our memories of fields of tulips. Perhaps, we were building the memories up, we worried. Were we conflating them with pent-up everything from the pandemic?
We monitored weather forecasts in order to select a sunny day. The best forecast landed on the Saturday before Easter. Which meant that it was in the middle of school holidays all over Europe. Even with the thousands of other people entranced by tulips and jonquils and cherry blossoms and rhododendron flowers, we found our second visit to be….
The beauty and joy of this place reaches inside us. Just pure pleasure. After years and months of disease, war, corrosive disinformation, and all the rest….
A few glorious hours of ravishing beauty.
A little history from the Rijksmuseum:
Long Live the Tulip: The tulip is arguably one of the best-known symbols of the Netherlands. The popularity of this flower dates back to the 17th century and reached unprecedented heights during the so-called Tulip Mania (in the years 1634-1637), which is generally considered the first recorded speculative frenzy in the world. In the most extreme cases, tulip bulbs even cost as much as real estate. The entire bubble collapsed in February 1637, but the love of tulips remained undiminished. There was a great diversity of tulips, all with different appearances. Tulip growers outdid each other in breeding specimens with novel colour combinations and patterns. Every new variety was given a name, such as the famous Semper Augustus. Tulips bloom only a few weeks a year. This gave rise to a special art form in this period, namely the tulip book in which colourful drawings of different types of tulips were bound together.
The tulip book shown here from the Six Collection may have been owned by Dr Nicolaes Tulp (1593-1674), the Amsterdam physician and mayor famously figuring in Rembrandt’s painting The Anatomy Lesson.