Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tiptoe Through the Tulips at Keukenhof

Swans and Tulips
Original watercolor
From the watercolor travel journal of
jojo sabalvaro tan 2012

This year we had the opportunity to be in the Netherlands during tulip season and when the much touted Keukenhof Garden in the town of Lisse was open. It is the largest flower garden in the world with approximately 7 million flowering bulbs planted annually. Due to the short blooming period of the bulbs, the gardens are only open from mid-March to mid-May. When asked by the immigration and passport control at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport about the purpose of our visit, we said we wanted to see the flowers but were now concerned that because of the unseasonably cold weather that the flowers won't be in their full glory. He responded that as a consolation, we would be attending one of the biggest parties thrown in the Netherlands in a recent times for the birthday of Queen Beatrix and investiture of Prince Willem Alexander as King and his wife, Maxima, as Queen. What a party it was. Although the official festivities were held in Amsterdam, big TV screens were set-up, food and beverage carts were scattered in various vantage points in every city, town and hamlet in the country so that all the citizens would feel part of the celebration.

Poster for the double celebration, April 30, 2013

Entrance yo Keulenhof plus our tickets

 Back to the tulips at Keukenhof..... Since it has been cold and rainy, we had to time our visit to the gardens on a day when the weather was pleasant. To get there from Den Haag, which was our base, we took the train to Leiden. Upon arrival in Leiden, we went to the Tourist Information center and purchased tickets for the Keukenhof express. For the price of the ticket, you get round trip transport on an Arriva bus #854 (waiting outside the train station) to the front gates of Keukenhof plus the entrance ticket to the gardens. Even though, we went on a Monday, the bus was filled to capacity.

Some of the many flower beds along the way

On the way over to Lisse, we saw many fields of flowers in various colors. What are typical scenery of squares of rice paddies in Asia, vineyards in many parts of Europe and cornfields and wheat fields in the US are large flower beds here.

Keukenhof was established in 1949 to promote the flower industry, particularly,tulips and other bulbs, of Holland. In the 15th century, it was a hunting ground and also where the nobles from Slot Teylingen estate got their herbs, thus the name Keukenhof. As you enter through the gates, you are greeted by the sounds coming from a huge nickelodeon and a panorama of the gardens and woods.

The Nickelodeon

Entrance into Keukenhof

We decided on a leisurely stroll through the gardens stopping to take tons of pictures and visiting the various indoor pavilions. My favorite is the Willem Alexander pavilion with its display of many different tulips and other flowers. But even as beautiful as the flowers were inside the pavillions, I still prefer looking at the them in the outdoor gardens.

Flowers outside one of the pavilions

Inside a pavilion

Needless to say, the gardens were a riot of color with the tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other flowering bulbs. I've never seen so many varieties and colors of tulips. I love the pinks and the dark purples (almost black) ones. And I am also partial to the ones with many petals and fringes. some looked more like peonies than tulips.

My favorite tulip

There are quiet areas also, with sweeping green grass to rest your eyes from the explosion of color and ancient tall trees just starting to grow their leafy canopies. And then there are the water features, little streams running through the gardens, fountains and a large pond ruled by several graceful swans. Some of the other interesting features are the sculptures scattered about the gardens and of course, the Windmill.

Swans in the pond

The Windmill - the icon of Keukenhof

One of the sculptures

I have to admit that I am very bad at painting flowers. Well, I am not very good at growing them either. Somehow, I can not do justice to the beauty of flowers, but I do keep trying for the one day I may get it right. So please bear with me as I subject you guys to my feeble attempts here to paint the flowers from Keukenhof.

Tulip study I
from watercolor travel journal
of jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

Tulip study II
from watercolor travel journal
of jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

Tulip study III
from watercolor travel journal
of jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

Keukenhof  Trees
from watercolor travel journal
of jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

Keukenhof Windmill
from watercolor travel journal
of jojo sabalvaro tan 2013

"Oh, tiptoe from the garden
By the garden of the willow tree
And tiptoe through the tulips with me"


  1. Reading your narrative makes me feel i was there with you.