In 1973 my husband was working in the Netherlands. I went over for two weeks in April "to see if I'd like it there" sufficiently to go over for the summer. Which I did, so accompanied by two young children, a dachshund and two cats we joined him for 3 months, living in Leiderdorp. Came home with children, dog, cats, two tortoises, 20 small rhododendrons, a box of assorted plants and 20 kilos of flower bulbs. But that's another story. As well as that original visit to Keukenhof in April 1973 I've been back several times accompanying tour groups or doing research. Was in Lisse in summer 2002 attending a conference, when fields of tigridia were in flower, and another visit in the late summer / early fall when the bulb harvest was well underway. Keukenhof is spectacular. Growers submit designs for their display plantings, which are immaculately maintained. I have the feeling that should one tulip in a group have the audacity to grow an inch taller than its neighbors, that night someone would come along, dig it up, deepen the hole and replant it for uniformity. There are pristine white swans floating on the still waters of canals and ponds on the grounds of Keukenhof, viridian green turf, even the trunks of the venerable beech trees are green with algae. The major parking lot is filled with tour buses from across Europe, even from the UK. (Ferry from Hook van Holland or through the Chunnel I suppose.) Colorful, unlike anything else, well worth seeing, but more blobs, painterly swathes of color than "garden." The bulb fields are clearly where Mondrian got the idea for his geometric paintings, crops of give-me-a-ticket red tulips, yellow daffodils, and hyacinths in a rainbow array. Since the hyacinth flowers are culled, the clever, thrifty Dutch use them for a Bloemencorso, a flower parade through the towns by the bulb fields, with figures on huge floats made from hyacinth flowers. All sorts of vehicles from cars to trucks to ambulances are in the parade, so embellished with flowers that you wonder how the driver manages. The parade is always held the last Saturday in April. Tour buses are often decorated with a garland of tulip flowers strung like some gigantic Dutch version of a Hawaii lei over the front. I remember one once broke apart and the air was filled with flying tulips, psychedelic to be sure. Store fronts will be decorated with garlands of tightly strung yellow daffodils. There's the Museum of the Black Tulip (Zwarte Tulp) in Lisse, with historical displays and also all sorts of tulip-related items - paintings, pottery, and more. In Limmen is the Hortus Bulborum, a historical bulb garden growing old cultivars of tulips, daffodils, crocus and more that are no longer readily available. They're in rows in the sandy soil, a thin covering of straw as a mulch. I remember that the small garden of the Frans Hals Museum had charming bulb plantings, and in the museum is Judith Leycester's famous painting of a red and white tulip from the Tulipomania. Not to be missed are the restored gardens of the Palais Het Loo in Appledorn, very formal with parterres and bulbs planted as the rarities they then were, when William of Orange and Mary, his queen would stay at this hunting lodge, before they went over to England to rule there. Gestner's tulips, just 5, planted in a quincunx, loosely flowered blue hyacinths, ditto, stately Fritillaria imperialis, and other bulbs. Every ten years (next one in 2012) there's the Floriade, a horticultural extravaganza that leaves the host community a new park when the event is over. And bulbs are, as you'd expect, quite prominently featured. Well this has gotten quite a bit longer than I intended. Clearly I have many fond memories of my stays in Holland, and would willingly return. Judy in New Jersey, where there's a little Tulipa greigii coming up and flowering in the lawn, with no idea how it got there since for sure I didn't plant it.