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Floriade Horticultural Exposition in the Netherlands

River Cruise Shore Excursion to 2002 Floriade

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Floriade Horticultural Exposition in the Netherlands

Floriade Horticultural Exposition in the Netherlands

Floriade Photo (c) Linda Garrison
On our Viking Europe cruise to the Netherlands in April 2002, we were lucky enough to have a chance to visit the Floriade, a Dutch horticultural exposition that is held once every ten years. The first Floriade was held in 1960, and this one was the fifth. The event is always held somewhere in the Netherlands, but in a different location. Floriade 2002 ran from April 6 through October 20, 2002. Haarlemmermeer, a city of about 100,000 near the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, was the 2002 site. After the Floriade, many of the exhibitions were dismantled, but a large part of the Floriade landscape became a park and recreation area for the local citizens.

Work began in 1996 to make the Floriade a special one. Hundreds of exhibitors were scattered throughout the three sections of the park--"on the lake", "by the hill", and "near the roof". These three names may sound a little odd, but they are very descriptive of the park sections. The park was open each day from 9:30 until 6:00 pm, and it costs 17 Euros to enter. To see the entire park took at least a day. Our tour only gave us a couple of hours inside the park, from 9:30 until about noon. The bus left us at the entrance to the "on the lake" area, so we only had an opportunity to tour one section of the park. Since it was a beautiful day, and we had come to the Netherlands to see bulb flowers, we decided it was a good choice to focus on the "on the lake" area since it is where many of the bulb flower gardens are located.

Upon entering the "on the Lake" section, we immediately saw the cheerful valley of flowers comprising one million flower bulbs. Wow! It was just what we had come to Holland to see! The flowers spell out the theme of the exposition -- feel the art of nature. Once the bulbs were gone, bright annuals and biennials provided color. The "on the lake" area was also covered with trails, other flowers, and a large lake. More than 60,000 plants were permanently scattered around the area, along with tens of thousands of wild flower bulbs, such as wood bluebells. Another interesting feature of the "by the Lake" area is the international section, with outdoor exhibits from several European and Asian countries. The 2 hours flew by as we wandered throughout the flowers and soaked up the spring sunshine.

We didn't visit the "by the hill" section, but it was named for Spotter's Hill, the highest point in the park. Spotter's Hill is man-made, and only 40 meters high, but in a country where much of the landscape is VERY flat, this hill really stands out. The "by the hill" section has pavilions from governments, companies, and sponsors. Many of these pavilions focused on living in 2010, so they have a futuristic look and feel. There is a tram that carrying visitors from the "on the lake" section to "by the hill".

The third area of the park was the "near the roof" section. This was the main entrance to the Floriade. The roof of the huge covered pavilion was covered with 19,000 solar panels, which provided enough power for all the park's energy needs while the Floriade was open. This solar energy installation at Floriade 2002 was the largest in the world ever to be integrated in a single roof. The area under the glass roof was divided into an open space and a more sheltered, enclosed area. The enclosed area accommodated the permanent exhibits and the numerous changing indoor exhibitions that required a sheltered and climate-controlled environment. These exhibitions covered a range of themes-bulbs, shrubs, glasshouse vegetables and tropical plants. Those visiting the Floriade didn't need to be scared off by the possibility of rain or inclement weather. During the Floriade there was always be at least one indoor exhibition with a flower theme.

Our short time at the Floriade was over all too soon. I'm now hoping to go to the next Floriade in 2012!

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