With a year to go until the gates open on the 23rd AIPH world horticultural exhibition and the seventh Floriade, we spoke to one of the show’s fans Sarah Hills-Ingyon, Chair of UK Floristry Judges Guild, about why this once-in-a-decade expo is a must-visit for floristry and horticultural students.
ECT: The last edition of Floriade was in 2012 in the Dutch town of Venlo. You went in September with your Floristry Judges hat on, tell us about that
SHI: Yes, they were holding the Dutch Skills live finals there. Staging these competitions as part of Floriade just added to an already amazing experience. I remember they held a demonstration by [award-winning Swedish floral designer] Per Benjamin in the evening while everything was being judged.
ECT: How would you describe Floriade?
SHI: It is a huge celebration of horticulture and floriculture, like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show on steroids, or the London Olympics, or The Eden Project or even the Millennium Dome because it’s very interactive. You are encouraged to walk right through the gardens for example, rather than just view them from the outside. There is so much to see – we went in at 8am and didn’t leave until after 10pm that night.
ECT: And why is it a must-visit for students?
SHI: Floriade is a must-visit for anyone really because it’s such a good day out – there’s art and fashion and food, as well as gardens and flowers. But there is a strong educational element too, which is invaluable for students. Every single plant is named, for example and there are so many varieties. And there was a whole library section too with books that you would never find in any one place and at any one time. We spent an hour in there reading. Floriade is also more than a temporary exhibition; it has lasting value and I think that makes it more understandable and accessible for students than seeing exhibits in exhibition halls. The floriculture element is fascinating too, and students are given a real insight into the Dutch flower industry.
ECT: So will you be going back in 2022?
SHI: Absolutely! And I will be wearing very comfy shoes…