The gardener to seven million blooms

Why do you think Keukenhof has become such a unique experience?

Obviously the flower displays are amazing. But more than that, I think people see Keukenhof as the signal that winter is at an end. It’s been cold, it might have snowed, and then people come here and feel spring has come. There’s a sense of nature coming to life again and people run to that after winter time.

Has social media affected its popularity?

We say on our website that some areas of the garden are very Instagrammable and I do think that social media has made a huge difference in the last five years. It’s interesting, how we are seen on social media has somewhat changed the gardens we design – we have to make them work as images that will be shared online.

What do you imagine will be the most ‘liked’ images this year?

I would imagine the spring bulb flowers like tulips, hyacinths and daffodils, as always. But there is so much more to Keukenhof than that actually. I say to people in the city “you live so close, why have you not been to Keukenhof”, and they tell me they can see flowers everywhere they go. When they finally get here they’re surprised by what else there is – grasses, flower shows in the pavilions, sculpture, live music, exhibitions, boat trips. It’s a pretty special place.

And what’s your favourite flower this year?

Some of the tulip varieties this year have this deep yellow colour. They’re strong, they look great, they feel like a smile in a flower, to me. And they smell like real tulips. I know that sounds strange, but not all tulips have a good smell.

So how Keukenhof smells is important to you, too?

Yes, on a sunny, warm day you can experience this amazing smell throughout the park. The funny thing is, you don’t exactly know where it is coming from and you can see people sticking their noses in the air!  Along with the look of the flowers and the sound of the birds tweeting, it all comes together to make you feel, wow, I’m in a good spot here. I’m in the right place.

This year the theme is Flower Power. Is it a nod to the 1960s movement?

In the garden we have a few changes – we’ve got some areas and flower designs which reference Flower Power. But Keukenhof is about celebrating the importance flowers have in people’s lives. I believe flowers do have a power to change the way you feel about your life in an individual moment.

Lisse, The Netherlands. keukenhof.nl/en

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