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Collecting garden ideas and snapshots in Holland.

Collecting garden ideas and snapshots in Holland In spring, dazzling fields of tulips sprawl in a colorful patchwork around creaking windmills, beckoning tourists to Holland's bulb district. But this area offers more than postcard-pretty scenery: its parks and gardens are treasure troves of bulb-planting ideas for visiting gardeners.

Two places you'll find full of garden ideas--Keukenhof and Frans Roozen nursery--are along the bulb route in and near Lisse, about 20 miles southwest of Amsterdam. If you're planning a trip abroad from April into late May, they're worth a detour; you can easily visit both by car in a day trip from Amsterdam or The Hague. Bloom season begins late in March, peaks in Aprril, and lasts until late May (unusually cold spring weather can delay it by a few weeks).

Bring a camera or pad and pencil to record plant combinations or bulb varieties you'd like to try at home.

Two places to see bulbs, gather ideas

Keukenhof, just west of Lisse town center, is open 8 to 6:30 daily from MArch 31 to May 23. This 70-acre display garden contains more than 6 million bulbs (800 varieties), with azaleas and flowering trees. Paths curve past streams and lakes edged with colorful bulb beds. Watch for handsome combinations like some we saw lastt spring: masses of low-growing grape hyacinths curving through a small bed of vibrant red tulips; white Anemone blanda and blue forget-me-nots edging a bed of golden yellow tulips; blue hyacints interspersed with red-striped yellow tulips; a young pink flowering crabapple tree underplanted with deep rose-pink tulips in a low pot.

To avoid heaviest crowds, try to visit early on weekdays. Admission costs about $5 for adults, $2.50 for ages 4 to 12; parking is about $1.

Frans Roozen nursery, Vogelenzangseweg 49, Vogelenzang, is open 8 to 6 daily in April and May. Step past an entry garden full of blooming shrubs and bulbs into a large, airy glass house, and a visual symphony of more than a thousand tulips greets you. Planted by color in labeled groupings, they show lots of ideas o colors and varieties that combine well.

In an outdoor bulb display garden, paths weave past beds of tulips that encircle a small lake and a decorative windmill. Tulip fields behind the nursery bloom in neat, colorful rows; on some days, you might see workers plucking off near-peak blooms to prevent seed formation and encourage bulbs to grow larger.

Buying bulbs in Holland

If these displays inspire you to buy bulbs in Holland, you can place orders at Keukenhof and Frans Roozen nursery for shipment at planting time in fall.

Keep in mid that bulbs may not perform the same in the mild-winter West as they do in Holland. Some varieties that grow 36 inches tall in a cold-winter climate might reach only 18 inches in a milder climate; others that are show stoppers in Holland might not grow at all. Ask for varieties that are suited to your climate. Best bets for warm-winter areas include amaryllis, grape hyacinths, some daffodils, and single late tulips (not always identified).

Resist the temptation to buy any gaily packaged spring bulbs you might see for sale in spring at flower markets or airport gift shops; these were most likely dug the previous summer and stored a long time. They could produce spindly blooms or not bloom at all.

Make sure any bulbs you bring home ar certified disease-free (most packaged ones are); all bulbs are subject to inspection on arrival in the U.S.

Getting to where the bulbs are

Most major U.S car rental agencies have offices in Amsterdam. If you'd rather not drive, a number of tour companies include the bulb district on half-day bus excursions from Amsterdam, for about $20; ask at local tourist (VVV) offices. Or many railway stations sell all-inclusive tickets, covering rail and bus fares and entrance to Keukenhof (about $10 from Amsterdam).

For more information, write to Netherlands Board of Tourism, 605 Market St., Room 401, SAn Francisco 94105.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Mar 1, 1988
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