One my most frequently asked questions each spring is ‘when is the best time to visit the Keukenhof Gardens?’ My answer – that depends…
Each autumn, 7 million flower bulbs are planted at the Keukenhof Gardens. The gardens are carefully planned so bulbs blooming early to late in the season. This means there is no time when all the flowers are in bloom at once. Whenever you visit, throughout the season, there will be plenty of tulips to enjoy.
I have been visiting Keukenhof Gardens for the past 7 years and even though I target similar dates, in the middle of the season, some years have seen more flowers in bloom than others.
The most important and unpredictable factor is Mother Nature herself. The timing of the tulips will vary depending on how cold or warm the winter has been. Keep an eye on the weather and use your best judgement. If it’s still cold in mid March, delay your visit by a week or two. If it is unseasonably warm, visit the gardens earlier.
This climate unpredictability is overcome in the huge greenhouse complexes, where you can enjoy thousands of tulips throughout the season.
Another important factor is what you hope to see at the Keukenhof.
Whenever you visit during the season, it is best to avoid weekends and holidays if at all possible. 44 million people have visited Keukenhof Gardens over the past 60 years, and some days it can feel as though all of them are there when you are.
If your aim is to photograph landscapes of Keukenhof devoid of people, you need to arrive as soon as the gates open and work quickly. The area near the pond is one of the first to get busy.
Later in the day, you can still escape the main crowds by heading to some of the more out of the way paths. The woodland gardens are a nice place to get some shade and escape the onslaught of tour-bus visitors.
The Greenhouses also get extremely crowded as the day goes on, particularly the orchid house as it is narrow to begin with. If you hope to do some macro photography, it is best to target the greenhouses early.
Whenever you go, remember the Keukenhof is 32 hectares, so you probably won’t be able to see everything. Every year is different and there is always something new to see and photograph.
Pace yourself and take lots of breaks and do as I do, breathe deep, and carry a big tripod
This year the gardens are open from 24 March to 20 May 2011
2161 AM LISSE
Telephone: +31 (0) 252 465 555
For more practical advice on photographing gardens, see my article Garden Photography Tips for Avoiding Crowds.
For more photography visit my gallery of Keukenhof Gardens photos.