A floral designer's tale

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In April this year, Bournemouth’s Academy of Floristry set off on a three-day floral adventure to the Netherlands.

Created especially for them by ECT Travel, the programme combined a visit to the extraordinary spring flower festival at Keukenhof and a morning at the world’s biggest flower auction Flora Holland, with private visits to Meijer Roses, home of the renowned Avalanche Rose, and orchid specialists Anco Pure Vanda. We even scheduled some shopping time at the trend-setting wholesalers Dillewijn Zwapk.

Here freelance florist, Chelsea medal winner and 2016’s ‘Young Florist of the Year’ Kay Willis shares her impressions of the trip.

Keukenhof is all colour. You walk in and the first thing you see is this array of tulips, hyacinths and daffodils, all planted in different tones. I found that particularly inspiring because colour is the starting point for everything I do in my own work.



The auction, Flora Holland, was amazing and revealed the sheer scale of this industry. It sounds strange coming from someone who’s been in the industry for 10 years, but I’d never appreciated the sheer scale of these markets. It was the same at Meijer Roses. This was the first time I’d seen the production process from beginning to end and I was totally blown away to see how much work goes into producing the flowers I use on a daily basis. I did a wedding with Meijer Roses as soon as I got back and knowing exactly where they had come from and how they had been grown gave me a new respect for the flowers.


Flora Holland Keukenhof


I must admit, I bought quite a lot at the sundries wholesaler; the selection of accessories is incredible and full of things you just don’t see in the UK. Luckily, there was plenty of room on the coach for extra bags!

I didn’t go to the Netherlands when I was studying floristry at College, but I’m so glad I’ve been now – I learned so much and came home full of new ideas. I’d definitely recommend a trip like this to current students because it’s incredibly educational, but at the same time, if you have a passion for floristry, it’s absolutely eye-opening.