Floriade 2012 – World Horticultural Expo Garden Tour
Including Keukenhof
April 19th – April 27th, 2012

April 19th, 2012 Day 1

For most of the people this is the arrival day. Our hotel for the first five nights is the Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Centre

We met in the lobby of the hotel for a welcome drink of Prosecco then went next door to Humprey’s for our Welcome dinner.

April 20th, Day 2

After an early morning quick breakfast we boarded our coaches to leave at 6:15 a.m.
This morning means a very early start for you because you will experience something very special. When you think of The Netherlands, Dutch tulips are likely among the first things that come to mind. But how about roses, gardenias, gerbera daisies and lilies? Just 10 miles from Amsterdam is a small town called Aalsmeer, whose claim to fame is that it's home to the largest flower auction in the world. Those flowers at your local grocery store? Those bouquets at the corner shop? Chances are, they've journeyed from Aalsmeer and were bid on just hours earlier. The auction has always owed its strong position to the clock. This method of selling is known as the ‘Dutch auction’. A very wide and deep assortment of flowers and plants is available through the auction clocks on a daily basis. Every day, 39 auction clocks are in operation at center. This means 125,000 auction transactions every day. In other words, 12 billion cut flowers and over half a million plants a year.

Interesting facts:

  • Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer sells more than 20 million flowers and plants every day;

  • 7000 specialized growers from all over the world offer their flowers and plants via Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer every day;

  • The auction has an essential ‘break-bulk’ function: large lots are sold within a couple of hours and divided into smaller lots;

  • The customers who are situated at the auction (wholesalers and exporters) products can be on their way to the consumer, anywhere in the world, within a few hours;

  • With its more than 1 million sq. metres, the auction building is one of the largest commercial buildings in the world.

  • Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer turns over EUR 6 million every day.

I had heard that they may not offer these tours for that much longer as soon the traders will be able to trade from home…who knows when it may happen!

After our visit here we boarded our coaches to for our next visit. We had some time to spare so added in a surprise visit to a little village. Full of wind mills, cheese and great pictures, it was a lovely spot.

Zaanse Schans is a small village on the banks of the Zaan river, complete with tidy green houses, real working windmills, and small topical museums such as the Clock Museum and the first Albert Heijn store. In the 17th and 18th century there were thousands of windmills along the dykes; sawmills, dye mills, oil mills etc that powered the Dutch economy. The Zaanse Schans village gives you a picture of what it must have been like. Not all the windmills and buildings started out in Zaanse Schans, many of them were Zaanse Schans must be the best day trip out of Amsterdam, yes it’s touristic, but the windmills are in working order and are fascinating, and there are several other mini-museums in the village, you can see clogs being made, the antique clocks, or buy sweets from the oldest Albert Heijn shop (or rather a replica of the oldest shop). Just to complete the Dutch day out, there’s a pancake restaurant moved here from the region as they came under threat from urban development across North Holland.

Then to the village of Limmen. There you will visit Hortus Bulborum. It is the only museum garden in the world where you can find over 4,200 different tulip, hyacinth, daffodil and other bulbous cultivars, species and varieties in bloom. Nowhere on this globe will you find such a fine selection of old bulbs in one place. Every spring the Hortus transforms into a treasure trove full of dazzling colours, beautiful shapes and overwhelming fragrances at the foot of the picturesque, parish church in Limmen village, near the historic city of Alkmaar.

The garden has a seasonal display of thousands of heirloom bulbs, some of which are no longer in commercial production. Certain tulips originated in the 16th century. The Fritillaria persica on display was already in cultivation as early as 1577, while the oldest narcissus is several centuries older yet. The garden, therefore, provides a fascinating overview of these immensely popular spring bloomers grown through the centuries. Thanks to headmaster Pieter Boschman who started the collection in 1924, the visiting public has the pleasure of enjoying such legendary tulips as the 'Duc van Tol Red and Yellow '(1595), 'Zomerschoon' (1620) and very popular during the Tulipmania (1635-1637) period or the exotic parrot tulip 'Perfecta" (1750) and many other fascinating examples.

The aim of Hortus Bulborum to to preserve these cultivars to safeguard them for the future. They are also a genetic resource for the professional breeding of bulbs in order to obtain better cultivars.

One of the things I found most interesting is that the older tulips were on very short stems with shorter leaves, similar in a lot of ways to a hosta leaf and I thought with today’s way of gardening, that they would fit perfectly around ponds and on the edges of beds rather than the tall varieties we mostly find now. They also maintain an historical Hippeastrum collection here.


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row