There’s no better place to see spring flower bulbs than Holland’s Keukenhof gardens. For eight weeks every year, you can feast your eyes on 80 acres of garden beds packed with tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, muscari, fritillaria and so much more.
It’s hard to fathom, but Keukenhof is completely replanted every fall with approximately 7 million flower bulbs. Some areas of the garden remain much the same from year to year, but others are changed up to keep the experience fresh for those who are lucky enough to visit annually.
In 2005, Keukenhof hired landscape designer Jacqueline van der Kloet to create several new bulb gardens. Inspired by the way wildflowers carpet an alpine meadow, Ms. van der Kloet took a new and very different approach to her plantings. She chose a unique color palette for each garden, mixed a half dozen different types of bulbs together, and then scattered them randomly over the planting area.
I was lucky to be at the Keukenhof gardens the following spring and Jacqueline’s plantings were breathtaking. The colors, foliage textures, flower sizes, heights and bloom times were perfectly choreographed to create gardens with the look and feel of an Impressionist painting.
In recent years, Jacqueline van der Kloet has added her artistry to Chicago’s Millenium Park, New York City’s Battery Park, the New York Botanical Garden, and many private gardens in the U.S. and Europe. Her style is informal and naturalistic — a counterpoint to the way most spring bulbs, especially tulips, are usually planted.
I have never seen tulips look more beautiful than they did in those mixed plantings. But it’s not a style that appeals to everyone. We’re curious — does it appeal to you?