The BSP goes Dutch… a visit to Floriade, 26th April – 28th April 2002
Another memorable event in the BSP calendar; a garden event that only happens every ten years, Floriade; it is only the fifth of its kind and is a World horticultural exhibition held in the Netherlands. Thanks to Wessel-jan Kos’ undying efforts, a small group of us were lucky enough to be going; the weather was not what you could call clement; the rain lashed down from the moment we left London and carried on well into the night, but as with all good things, after a fun filled evening getting to know some of our Dutch colleagues from Quest, the weather dried up on Saturday, our main day; a bitterly cold wind still blew across the flats of Holland, but at least the rain held off.
The colours and scents that were to greet us were worth any discomfort caused by the weather… From vegetables and fruit to mushrooms, from bulbs flowers and plants to trees, bushes and shrubs, national and international exhibitors created over 300 different displays and presentations in this 65 hectare park, in the Haarlemmermeer district, close to Amsterdam…
Long after the exhibition closes in on 20th October 2002, the Park will remain an integral part of landscaping of this area; elements of sculpture, pavilions, paths and lakes all contribute to the visual aspects of this exhibition. The main lake was just about to see water lilies emerge… a mass of colour by now no doubt.
The valley of flowers is reckoned to comprise more than a million bulbs! A feast for the senses… masses of colours and scents compete for our attention.
A futuristic Green City gave us an insight as to how people may live work and relax in 2010, all under solar powered panels, whilst the tropical pavilions allowed us to pretend that we were in far flung lands with exotic fruits such as durian and rambuttans on display; the Thai pavilion also had on show an interesting selection of essential oils that were duly smelt by all of us… the orchids creating a delicate scented backdrop in this area.
Dutch tulips were everywhere… different shapes and a myriad of colours, with depths of yellows, purples, pinks, reds, especially impressive in the floral border recreating in flowers the theme of the show… Feel the art of nature in big bold letters all made out of tulips: a watch tower allowed an unrestricted view of this fabulously colourful display. It could have read Smell the art of nature, and we didn’t even have the true benefit of sunshine heat to enhance it although every time the sun did appear through the clouds you could literally start to smell all the plants in more depth! I had never really realised how scented a mass of tulips could be! They mingled impressively with the grape hyacinths to create an intoxicating ambiance…
The indoor pavilions provided some pleasant respite from the biting wind and offered some wonderful scents: wisteria in full bloom, large rhododendrons, sweet scented jasmine tumbling down the walls: lilacs of all colours, each with a more intoxicating scent than the previous bush and discreet lily of the valley poking up through the grass. The different plants, from exotic orchids to timid violets from all seasons mingled under these impressive glass solar panels to create a floral cornuptia of scents.
As a homage to this floral event, the Dutch post office also issued a set of perfumed stamps featuring water lilies, dahlias, cherry blossom, orchids and tulips, all scented with a sweet fruity floral fragrance… 2002 seems to have been the year of the fragrant message, as earlier in the year our 40p stamp commemorating the Nobel prize’s 100th Anniversary was scented with eucalyptus.
The group split up into smaller groups for the evening, most of us heading off to explore Amsterdam… an hour down the canals, to get a feel of Old Amsterdam and feeling fairly famished by now, we set off to find a Reistaffel ( an Indonesian buffet that has become part of Dutch tradition) for dinner. It lived up to the expectation of taste delights, although I do believe the restaurateur looked a bit worried when we all started discussing in grand detail the spices that made up each dish!
A truly wonderful Dutch/Indonesian way to round off an exhilarating day of fun, colour and scents.
No doubt you will be able to sample some of the visual delights on our gallery courtesy of Julie Towle: