Tall Tulips and Hidden Treasures: Gardens in Holland and Belgium

By Olwen Woodier
Page 6 of 6   |  

Holland in April and May is a spectacular display of great multicolored bands of field after field of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring flowers. Besides the general landscape of this canal-dotted country, however, are some concentrated displays.

Keukenhof Garens, Lisse
The Keukenhof Gardens, planted with 500 different kinds of flowers, is one of the most spectacular public parks. Replanted every year with six million bulbs, the Keukenhof is a reflection of Holland’s colorful floral theme. New varieties are being constantly developed at the Keukenhof, and each year a new variety of tulip is added to the existing display of thousands, all of which flourish in Holland’s damp, sandy terrain. It’s impossible not to be dazzled by the vibrancy of these masses of colorful flowers that slash the landscape with their range of scarlet, burgundy, violet, wine, indigo, deep yellow, bright canary yellow, shocking pink, rose pink, and more.

Palais de Het Loo
The past home of the Dutch Royal Family, the House of Orange, it is now a state museum. Its baroque garden is a reconstruction of when the palace was built in the late 17th century. The design reflects French and Dutch influences and is similar to the layout and ornamentation of the Vaux-le-Vicomte gardens in France. The mature copper beeches and tulip trees growing in the parterres around the King’s Fountain are the remains of Louis Napoleon’s landscape garden.

Belgian gardens have been influenced by the French style of design—formal pleasure gardens based on the designs used to create the gardens for the French royal family in the 17th century. Belgium has a fine range of gardens that span the country from the west coast and stretch through the interior farmland regions to the Ardennes in the east. While these gardens are not as well known as those in France, they are secret gems waiting to be discovered.

Annevoie Gardens, Meuse Valley
The gardens of the Chateau d’Annevoie, set in the lush Meuse valley near the ancient city of Namur, rank among Europe’s best. Designed around 1760, they are an exquisite blend of styles—informal English, romantic Italian, and formal French, which are grandly linked by an incredible series of fountains, cascades, waterfalls, reflecting pools, water gardens, and grottoes. The sound of gushing, gurgling, splashing water can be heard in every corner of the garden. The avenues and walkways leading to the various gardens and water displays are lined with the leafy canopy of ancient larch, purple beech, Atlantic cedar, and pine.

Jardin-Museum de Franc-Waret
Visit this garden if you appreciate aromatic, medicinal plants, and rare vegetables. There are also examples of French, English, and Japanese gardens here.

Chateau Corroy-le-Chateau
Dating from the 19th century, the park is dominated by an avenue of sycamore trees. The gardens are noteworthy for their original French star, labyrinth, and alleys that were part of the 18th-century garden design.

Olwen Woodier, an advanced master gardener living in Virginia, has written several books on the subject and numerous magazine and newspaper articles, including chapters for the Time-Life series on gardening. She combined her love of plants with a passion for cooking in her award-winning Apple Cookbook and teaches adults in both endeavors.

Published: 21 Feb 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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