In a message dated 4/2/2006 9:19:39 AM Pacific Standard Time, email@example.com writes: Mary Sue ~ Bill [Dijk] brought with him a number of CDs picturing the bulb show he had just attended in the Netherlands and one of the famous garden Keukenhof. I've never visited it and found it interesting how they design and plant it fresh every year and how many people visit it for the few months every year it is in bloom (this year 23 March until 19 May). Bill said that the season was delayed this year so although there were some things in bloom, the masses of bulbs in bloom were yet to come. The Keukenhof is to those who truly appreciate "bulbous plants" what Mecca is to certain religions -- the one place on Earth that must be visited before one is placed in the Earth. This jaw-dropping display of spring-flowering bulbs (the display garden of the Dutch bulb industry) is almost difficult to comprehend! It absolutely demands a visit of several days just to see it all. One simply has to just quietly sit in one place and let the beauty of the place sink in. Bill's CD of Keukenhof shows a solid mass of flowers in bloom, all at the same time and all perfect. So how do they do that? Is rain different over there? Is there no wind? And how can you get flowers all to open the same day so they will all be blooming together? Timing and clone selection. Of course, the cold weather in The Netherlands at that time of the year helps to preserve the flowers in bloom so the seasons tend to blend and merge with one another, coinciding with midseason, or a bit either side. Even in the cold of an Oregon Spring, spared hail, daffodils can last three to four weeks in bloom. They're, literally, growing and blooming in a refrigerator! The entire garden is replanted each Fall. After the Spring show is over, the bulbs in the beds are dug and the soil worked over and prepped for replanting in the Fall. It's a mind-boggling effort. Each of the bulb growers in The Netherlands can lease a space in the garden to plant with the bulbs their business grows to display their product. I would imagine, however, that it is done according to some theme. Bill says they are planted so densely they hold each other up and he's not sure that they get heavy rain. I wonder if they have ever have hail (which in my experience leaves the leaves and flowers marked unattractively.) The last time I was in Holland, I was never so cold in my life! I was wearing virtually every stitch of clothing I had packed and was still shivering during visits to the bulb grower's fields. The wind was so strong it was blowing the rain and sleet horizontally across the landscape -- too strong for even the modest protection of an umbrella! If it weren't for the warm, welcoming kitchens in the houses of the growers and cups and cups of coffee, I'd probably still be there waiting to thaw out. The Keukenhof is set in a grove of widely spaced ancient beech trees and is surrounded with an additional plantings to cut the wind. However, Bill is right when he says that the close planting is also responsible for both the effect and the ability of the plantings to withstand some wind. Thus, the plantings in the park itself are sheltered from the major blasts. They also have glasshouses with exhibits. These are not to be missed either!! They contain bulbous plants, e.g., lilium, that are blooming out of season and even massive displays of things like tulip. I recall one mind-bending display of hippeastrum that had me madly scribbling in my checkbook!! The business-minded Dutch often man their displays and are only too accommodating if one chooses to buy bulbs. My husband says that those pictures for the CD could have been taken over many years on perfect days. I did see this disclaimer on the web site: "Flowering in the park depends on the weather conditions." It's Spring weather and no one that I know of (I'm not up on the latest . . .) can perfectly control the weather! If you're going to sell something and use photos to do that, there is no question but what one selects only the best of them to make the point. However, be that it as it may, and as good as the photos are, the real thing experienced in person (even on a rainy day) just cannot be surpassed by a mere photo! Think fragrance -- hundreds of square feet of hyacinth, for example, and you'll understand the admonition to take some of your money "and buy hyacinth for the soul." Do remember to bring several of the largest digifoto chips with you -- you'll fill them to capacity in no time at all and your photos will be as good!!! I've been several times and wouldn't hesitate in a minute to go again -- and I hate flying nowadays, as the "only way to fly" is but a distant memory in this day of cattle-car class . . . With the rise in fuel prices, one can no longer fly business class for the price of discounted coach (OK, so I used some frequent flyer miles -- back when they still had some value!!) On the other hand, you would be well advised to do whatever it takes to experience The Netherlands during Spring-blooming season at least once in your life. Not only is there The Keukenhof, but the fields of the growers and all of the interesting and historical sights in a country with a long heritage, plus, there is the world's best Gouda cheese and beer to eat and drink yourself silly with!! The web site has a great of deal of background information, http://www.keukenhof.nl/ although it is unfortunate that it doesn't include many photographs of the displays themselves. Google Keukenhof and there is presented a range of options that I didn't fully explore. All best, Dave Karnstedt Cascade daffodils Silverton, Oregon, USA Mediterranean climate -- cold and wet Winters, hot and dry Summers.