We’ve been in the Netherlands for a few days, spending time with friends. We had a chance to visit Kuekenhof, a fabulous centre only open during the tulip season, to see the work of those that plan their beautiful gardens. We were not alone, tens of thousands of other visitors crowded the walkways and paths, yet every moment was a treasure.
It takes a special skill to be able to visualise the colours and heights and density of the plantings being made. Not just vision, but also an understanding of the plants, in order to create long and stunning parades of colour. They entice and draw in the many visitors so that space, colour and even time itself seem somehow changed. It is not just the tulips, fabulous as they are, but the companion planting designed to show everything off brilliantly, the long views and curving walkways, the buildings and the sculptures, all of which enhance the beauty of it all.
It’s a living masterpiece created by masters of their art. People who have the freedom to introduce new varieties as they are developed, with the confidence that their mastery ensures, give their customers the chance to share in the beauty of their creations.
That confidence is learned from other masters passing on those skills, yet without constraining those that follow from expressing their own unique talent. Every year the broad plan will be different, and yet achieve the same. Every day there will be subtle shifts, as one variety starts to flower whilst others mature, and some start to fall. Every day the light will change, and every day the weather plays its part in making this a unique, once in a lifetime experience. Yet, all of that existed long before the first of a million bulbs were planted, in the mind of the masters that planned it, built it, planted it and tended to it.
It’s very special.