November is when the Dutch flower industry holds all its big shows and it’s a great time to visit, as The Netherlands is the largest importer and exporter of cut flowers and houseplants in the world. If you want to see flowers at their absolute best, then Holland is the place to go.
There are three shows all held on the same week, which means with a little forward planning (and an early start!) you can get to see all of them. I started off at the biggest venue, Amsterdam’s RAI Centre for the International Horti Fair.
The Horti Fair is where growers showcase their new flowers and improved versions of established varieties. Wandering around you can’t help but be wowed by the sheer perfection of all the blooms and amazed by the new takes on well-known flowers. My favourite was a double petalled lilac-coloured Chinese Aster. Quite stunning.
The Horti Fair is also a great place to pick up new display ideas, I loved a wall covered with brightly painted clogs filled with mini carnation plants, and the winter bride, decorated with white lilies was simply amazing.
Next stop was the FloraHolland Trade Fair at Aaslmeer, the home of the Dutch auctions where the atmosphere was buzzing. The great thing about FloraHolland is that you get to talk to the actual growers and they are always so excited about their products.
This is a special year for the auctions as it is celebrating its centenary. In 1911 a group of growers decided there was a need for a local flower auction over a game of billiards in a bar. 100 years on the auctions at FloraHolland employs over 4,000 people, has a turnover of 4.1 billion Euros and sells more than 12 billion flowers and plants every year.
If I was going to pick out a particular trend from FloraHolland, then orchids look to be the plant for 2012. Gorgeous phalaenopsis were everywhere, many accessorised with some classic vintage 50’s styling.
Next stop was a new exhibition, IFTF (International Floriculture Trade Fair), only in its second year but already showing plenty of promise. This show was held in a large glasshouse, great for plants but a little warm for visitors! The stars of the show here, without a doubt, were the roses. Beautiful large headed varieties which made up in size and colour what they sadly lacked in scent. I was very taken by one exhibitor’s version of the Old Masters, I’ve not seen the Mona Lisa holding a bunch of roses before – the Dutch are nothing if not innovative!
Three shows and nine hours after landing in Holland it’s back to the UK, trying not to crush the flowers that I was presented with at the Horti Fair. They made the journey back in one piece and are a pleasant reminder of a full, but incredibly inspiring day.
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