International Horticultural Expo Floriade & The Mauritshuis, May 2022

Tour Dates
15 May 2022 - 20 May 2022

Our 5 nights/6 days programme combines a full day at the International Horticultural Expo Floriade with visits to two extraordinary museums - including the world famous Mauritshuis on its 200th birthday - two beautiful gardens, one sculpture park, one fairy tale castle and two canal ringed cities.

De Haar Castle Utrecht

Based in Utrecht, you will visit The Gardens of Appeltern, De Haar Castle, Hortus Botanicus, The Mauritshuis, Kröller-Müller and Sculpture Park and Amsterdam.

Kroller Muller Sculpture Park

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Museum Yellow
International Horticultural Expo Floriade 2022 Netherlands

What we love

Utrecht City Netherlands canal Mauritshuis The Hague Dutch Golden Age painting

Experiences you will treasure

What people say

International Horticultural Expo Floriade 2022

Floriade is a huge celebration of horticulture and floriculture, like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show on steroids… It’s a must-visit for anyone because it’s such a good day out – there’s art and fashion and food, as well as gardens and flowers.

Sarah Hills-Ingyon, Chair of UK Floristry Judges Guild

How much is it?

Fly from a variety of UK airports from £1565
Arrange your own flights to Amsterdam- join us at the airport & return to the airport £1425pp
Single Room Supplement £275 in total
Option Extra Day 1: Schuttevaed Boat Cruise, Utrecht £15pp
Option Extra Day 6: 1 hour canal cruise, Amsterdam £19pp
Utrecht City Netherlands

What's included in your holiday

Floriade 2022 May departure

Itinerary - what you will do when

Flights & Transport

Where you will be staying

A Deeper Dive

Mauritshuis Museum The Hague Netherlands

2022 is the 200th anniversary of the Mauritshuis in the Hague. Built in the 17th Century as a private residence for Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen and turned into a museum in 1822, it is home to the best of Dutch painting of the 17th Century. More than 200 masterpieces by Dutch and Flemish masters are on display in the intimate interior, with its silk wall covering, sparkling chandeliers and monumental painted ceilings. The collection includes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, and Fabritius’ The Goldfinch.

The anniversary celebrations begin, rather fittingly, with an exhibition dedicated to flowers. We asked the show’s curator Ariane van Suchtelen, to tell us more.

ECT: Why flowers?

AvS: We wanted a really festive subject to start the anniversary year and flowers are something that you give someone for a birthday. And the Mauritshuis has the best collection of 17th Century Dutch and Flemish flower still life paintings in the world.

ECT: So what can visitors expect to see?

AvS: The idea is, of course, to showcase our amazing collection and tell the story of this genre of painting, but we also want to reveal how flowers and science and art went hand-in-hand, so there is quite a lot of contextual material too. And we also celebrate the women artists who specialised in flower paintings.

Vase of FLowers painting Rachel Ruysch Mauritshuis Museum Vase with Flowers, Rachel Ruysch 1700, Mauritshuis, The Hague

ECT: Tell us about some of the highlights.

AvS: The show begins with two early works - Hans Memling’s, Flowers in a Jug, loaned by the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, which is considered to be the first still life of flowers, and a very fine, small painting by the German artist Ludger tom Ring, who did a number of works in the late 16th Century that were probably part of pieces of furniture. Then there is a room of what we call the ‘pioneers’ – people such as Ambrosius Bosschaert and Roelant Savery – who were working shortly after 1600, and in the final room there are fantastic flower paintings by Jan Davidsz de Heem and Rachel Ruysch, representing the real blooming of the genre in the second half of the 17th Century.

Flower Painting Tom von Ring the Younger Mauritshuis Museum
Narcissi, Perwinkle and Violets in a Ewer, Ludger tom Ring the Younger c.1562 Mauritshuis, The Hague (purchased by the Friends of the Mauritshuis Foundation, 2015)
Vase of Flowers Jan Davidsz de Heem Mauritshuis Museum Vase of Flowers, Jan Davidsz de Heem, c1700 Mauritshuis, The Hague (purchased by the Friends of the Mauritshuis Foundation with a major contribution from Hans Heinrich, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza and the support of the Rembrandt Association, 1993)

And we have some fascinating albums too, telling the story of the scientific links. The low countries were the foundation for a lot of botanical research at this time, and many artists were commissioned by scientists and botanists to depict new species. We are showing a number of albums made for the Amsterdam Hortus for example, which are illustrated with watercolours of the species that were grown there. They aren’t usually available to the public so that’s very special. And we’ve got two books by Carolus Clusius, the founder of Hortus Botanicus in Leiden and one of the most famous plant researchers of his time, as well as albums documenting Tulip Mania. In one of them a dealer has recorded a price of 4.200 guilders for a single bulb. That’s about the same price as an Amsterdam canal house!

ECT: There were several successful women artists working at time too?

AvS: Yes, and that is an important focus of the exhibition. Two stars of the show are Rachel Ruysch who specialised in flower paintings and is now getting the attention she deserves, and Maria Sibylla Merian, one of the greatest artist-naturalists of her time.

ECT: It promised to be a vivid bouquet - we can’t wait!

Vase of Flowers Roelant Savery Mauritshuis The Hague Vase of Flowers in a Stone Niche, Roelant Savery 1615 Panel Mauritshuis, The Hague (purchased with the support of the BankGiro Lottery, the Rembrandt Society ((thanks in part to its fund for seventeenth-century paintings)) and H.B. van der Ven, 2016)

One of the highlight features of Floriade Expo 2022 will be the Flower Art Project Classics & Future

This outdoor, natural gallery will be made up of eight colourful gardens, each one cleverly slanted so you can see them from afar and featuring a special 'selfie' square. 


“Maybe you are familiar with the photogenic flower bulb fields in Holland which are very popular with tourists. We used that idea in the construction of these gardens and I can tell you that it will be very beautiful, “says Niek Roozen, landscape architect at Floriade.

Modern planting plans

As well as flower bulbs, there are also lots of perennials and shrubs ensuring that the gardens are real works of art to look at during the entire Expo. As Niek Roozen says, “we want to show here how important planting plans are for a beautiful garden. In the arboretum you can see all kinds of plants with special properties, but there is no planting plan involved. At Classics & Future you can see what a beautiful, modern combination of plants looks like.”

Classics and talents of the future

The name Classics & Future refers to the four 'classics' and the four upcoming talents who will be showing their skills on each of the eight lots. The 'classics' are the very experienced and well-known planting experts Buro Mien Ruys, Jacqueline van der Kloet, Fleur van Zonneveld and Atelier Ton ter Linden, while Stefan Jaspers and Marcel Silkens and two students from Larenstein and Aeres complement them as talents of the future. 

Kroller Muller Museum Sculpture Park Modern Art Netherlands

The Kröller-Müller Museum was founded by Helene Kröller-Müller, an avid art collector  who was one of the first to recognize Vincent van Gogh’s genius and collect his works. In 1935, she donated her whole collection – the second largest in the world - to the state of the Netherlands. Three years later, she founded this museum within the extensive grounds of her and her husband's former estate (now the national park). The building was designed by Henry van de Velde, one of the founders of Art Nouveau.

Today the collection comprises some 20,000 works of art. Amongst the Van Gogh works are masterpieces such as ‘Café Terrace at Night’, ‘Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity’s Gate)’ and a version of ‘The Potato Eaters’. Other highlights include works by modern greats such as Piet Mondrian, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Georges Braque, Paul Gaugin, Lucas Cranach, Juan Gris, and Pablo Picasso.  

The Museum is also famous for its large sculpture park, set in a beautiful forest garden. The garden reflects Helene Kröller-Müller's conception of a symbiosis between art, architecture and nature and boasts an impressive collection of both modern and contemporary sculpture by, amongst many others, Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, and Jean Dubuffet, as well as two striking 1960s pavilions – one by Gerrit Rietveld and another by Aldo Van Eyck – which have been given a permanent base here.

Gardens of Appeltern Aliums Summer Flower

35 years-ago, professional gardener Ben van Ooyen decided to create a series of demonstration gardens around his home in the village of Appeltern as a way to attract more clients. The idea was an instant hit and the more gardens he developed, the more passionate he became, visiting gardens across the Netherlands and also in the United Kingdom. RHS Wisley Gardens and Great Dixter were huge inspirations. Today there around 200 model gardens here, including a growing number by renowned landscape architects and several innovative gardens themed around flowers and Eastern ideas. Highlights include The National Fixed Plant Garden with its vibrant summer borders, and the Living Garden. Bringing all aspects of sustainable and living gardens together, this garden is made up of five themed circles, each with its own theme: ‘good for small animals’, ‘a second life’ (i.e. re-use of materials and plants), ‘taste and smell’, ‘a longer life’ (sustainability) and 'better for all of us’ (sustainability). Whatever your interest, there is plenty here to inspire and, in May, it is a feast for the eyes.

We sat down with Ben van Ooyen to find out more. 

ECT: The Gardens of Appeltern are now 35 years old –how did they begin?

BvO: It was a coincidence really. I was a DJ working in a restaurant and I wanted to go and live somewhere green with my family. I found a piece of land in the village of Appeltern, which is in the area of the Netherlands where I was born, but if we were going to stay there, I needed to find a way to make a living. So I started a garden design company and made some demonstration gardens using products from various wholesale dealers. I visited several gardens in England for inspiration, including Great Dixter and RHS Wisley, because English garden culture is the best in the world, but I was clear that what I wanted to do at Appeltern was give visitors information as well as inspiration.

ECT: So the Gardens of Appeltern are a resource as well as a park?

BvO: Yes, our gardens are made in a way where visitors can pick up the whole idea and make it themselves. Right from the start, every plant, every stone, every bit of fencing has been available to the public and now you can scan your smartphone at each of the different gardens and you will get a list of all the plants and products in it. And you can order them too – although we can’t deliver to the UK yet. It’s the only resource like it in the world.

Gardens of Appeltern Aliums Summer Flower

ECT: Why is that important?

BvO: I believe that we must be busy everyday introducing people to the garden world because when we succeed in giving everyone a garden then we are able to change to world a little bit.

Gardens of Appeltern Aliums Summer Flower

ECT: Tell us about some of the gardens

BvO: There are over 200 different gardens at Appeltern today, spread over 22 hectares. Many are my own, but there are also gardens by architects and garden firms from across the Netherlands and beyond. They are all different – we even have a metal garden made by an American architect – but all of them are creative and inspiring and we are constantly making new gardens.

ECT: We’re coming to Appeltern in May, June, and September. What can we look forward to seeing?

BvO: People often ask me when the garden is at its best, but that’s a question I can’t answer because everyday is different at Appeltern and whenever you come and sit in the garden, it feels like home. In spring everything is fresh, in summer most of the plants are flowering and in September the colours are changing When you come next year, you will also be able to see the first garden I made all those years ago. It has been closed for seven years because we didn’t have time to look after it, but when the Pandemic started, I decided to bring it back. Rather than clear it and make something new, I said ‘no, everything that has grown here will be given more space because the plants have proved that they are strong’ and I have also taken away the automatic watering system. It’s a new old garden and it’s beautiful.

You can watch Ben talking about the gardens here

De Haar Castle Netherlands Architecture

The largest castle in the Netherlands, De Haar dates back to 13th century, but the imposing building we see today is the work of late 19th/early 20th century architect Pierre Cuypers, best known for his designs for the Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam’s Central Station. Cuypers not only created a fairy-tale perfect castle complete with towers, ramparts, moats, gates, and drawbridges, he also designed the interiors, the gardens, the chapel and even the village of Haarzuilens where the castle is set.

Visiting De Haar Castle is to step into a world of opulent history. For the last hundred years, descendants of the Van Zuylen van Nijevelt van de Haar family have spent each September here, throwing lavish parties for members of the international jet set.  Coco Chanel, Maria Callas, Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, Yves Saint Laurent, Joan Collins, and Brigitte Bardot have all stayed here and left their mark on the interior design. Outside, the park and gardens feature romantic vistas and impressive avenues, as well as a beautiful Rose Garden.

Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam Garden Greenhous Palm Trees

Established in 1638, Hortus Botanicus is one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens. Originally known as ‘Hortus Medicus’, it was filled with medical plants for use by the city’s doctors and pharmacists in the hope of finding a cure for the plague that was ravaging Leiden and Utrecht at the time.  

By the second half of the 17th century, the garden – now re-named - contained a rich collection of plants brought from all over the world by the traders of the Dutch East India Company and previously unknown in Europe. Some of these plants, such as a single coffee plant, Coffea Arabica, and two small oil palms in pots, are believed to be the parents for the entire cultures of plants that later expanded throughout the continent.

Hugo de Vries was appointed director of the Hortus Botanicus in 1885 and brought the garden to international attention. The magnificent Palm House and the Hugo de Vries Laboratory were both built during his tenure, complementing the 17th century hexagonal pavilion, the entrance gate (built in the early 1700s) and the 1875 Orangery.

Today, Hortus Botanicus is home to more than 6,000 different plants, including a 2,000-year-old agave cactus and a 300-year-old Eastern Kape giant cycad. A new hothouse creates conditions for three different tropical climates. Visitors can follow two different, themed routes through the Hortus, ‘The Evolution Route’ and ‘The Tree Route’, which takes you past 24 monumental trees.

Amsterdam Bridge Modern Architecture

Here are our highlights for an afternoon in the capital city.

Art lovers should head straight for Museumplein where you will find a cluster of world-beating museums, including the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, devoted to modern and contemporary art, and the Rijksmuseum with its stunning collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings such as ‘The Milkmaid’ by Johannes Vermeer, ‘The Night Watch’ by Rembrandt, and ‘Portrait of a Young Couple’ by Frans Hals. The city’s favourite park, Vondelpark, is also here and is a perfect place to sit and digest everything you have seen before setting off for the Rembrandt House Museum at Jodenbreestraat 4 where the artist lived and worked from 1639 to 1658.

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Art Netherlands

Amsterdam’s Golden Age history can be seen in all its elegance at the Herengracht, the first of the four main canals in the city centre’s Canal Belt. Completed along with its neighbours in the 17th century as part of an expansion project that is now UNESCO listed, this is where Amsterdam’s social elite built their grand gabled houses. Look out for the former office of the Dutch West India Company at Herenmarkt, one of Amsterdam’s oldest residences (built in 1590) at no. 81 and, at no. 172, the magnificent 1617 Bartolotti House, considered the finest of all of Amsterdam’s Golden Age merchant’s houses. Museum Van Loon, in the neighbouring Keizersgracht, provides an insight into the splendour these 17th C merchants lived in. A magnificent private residence built in 1672 by the architect Adriaen Dortsman, its first resident was the painter Ferdinand Bol, a pupil of Rembrandt. The interior of the house has remained largely intact and includes a large collection of paintings, fine furniture, precious silvery and porcelain. Behind the house is a beautiful garden, laid out in formal style and bordered on the far side by the classical facade of the coach house. The original unity of the canal house, garden and coach house is unique. You should also visit The Royal Palace on Dam Square. Designed by architect Jan van Campen to reflect the power and wealth of this city in 17thC, this is the largest and most prestigious building of the era.

The Anne Frank House on the Prinsengracht preserves the secret annexe where the young diarist hid from Nazi persecution from 1942 until she was captured, along with her family and four other inhabitants, in 1944. The secret rooms are on an enclosed courtyard behind a 17th-century canal house and give a visceral sense of what it was like to live in hiding.

And if you are looking for cafes to watch the world go by, as well as specialist shops and galleries for interesting souvenirs, head for the Jordaan, a grid of little streets and filled-in canals bordered by the Singel. Created in the 17th century, this area was first inhabited by Amsterdam’s working class and an international array of migrants, such as the Huguenots from France and Puritans from England, all seeking the city’s famous religious tolerance. Today it offers a picture postcard slice of Amsterdam life. Don’t leave without dropping into a ‘brown café (a Dutch pub), or tasting a traditional bitterballen (deep fried breaded meatball).

Dutch Golden Age buildings architecture Amsterdam

Utrecht city Netherlands canal bridge

Less well-known than Europe’s other canal cities, but just as picturesque, Utrecht has a special charm. Quintessentially Dutch, it offers visitors both an authentic taste of the contemporary Netherlands and also a fascinating insight into its history. Initially designed as a medieval fortified city, the heart of Utrecht is enclosed by an inner canal ring measuring just under 6km so can be easily explored in a few hours. Here are our highlights.

The Dom Tower. At 112.5m high, this is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands and is considered the symbol of Utrecht. The tower was part of St. Martin's Cathedral, also known as the Dom Church, and was built between 1321 and 1382, to a design by John of Hainaut on the site of a Roman fortress. Most of the church was destroyed in a tornado in the 1500s, so only some parts remain, including the tower. There are 465 steps to the top, but the views when you get there are stunning! (Please note, you can only visit the tower as part of a 1hr guided tour.)

Dom Tower Utrecht

While you’re here, take a moment to visit the Pandhof garden. Once part of the old monastery garden, it is one of the most elaborately designed courtyards in the Netherlands. You can admire the 15th century cloister surrounding the courtyard as well. (Entry here is free and does not require a ticket to Dom Tower)

DOMunder: Located in the centre of Dom Square, this underground space traces 2,000 of Dutch history. Follow a route with special torch to experience history from the time the Romans built the castellum Trajectum, around 45 A.D, learn why Utrecht was the center of the Netherlands in the middle ages and even experience the destructive tornado that caused the nave of the Dom Cathedral to collapse in 1674.

The Centraal Museum: housed in a medieval cloister on the Nicolaaskerkhof, this museum boasts the largest collection of Gerrit Rietveld pieces in the world, as well the work of the world-famous Dick Bruna, and Dutch icons Jan van Scorel, Abraham Bloemaert and Hendrick ten Brugghen. It also provides a broad overview of 2,000 years of the country’s turbulent history.

The Utrecht canals: the only canals in the world to have wharfs and wharf cellars, the city’s waterways date back to the 12thC when the first canal, Oudegracht, was dug to change the course of the Oude Rijn River. Connecting the river Vecht in the north to the Vaartsche Rijn in the south, the Oudegracht became an elongated harbour. Large city castles were built along the canal and wharfs were added where boats could unload their cargos directly onto the land. These wharfs had deep cellars which served as water level storage spaces and pedestrian walkways, creating a unique two-level street system. Today these cellars are filled with shops, restaurants, galleries and cafes and no visit to Utrecht is complete without a drink or a meal in one of these atmospheric cellar restaurants. 

Located slightly outside the city centre, but easy to get to from Utrecht Central Station (which is close to your hotel), The Rietveld Schröder House is a must for anyone with an interest in art and design. Built in 1924 by the designer Gerrit Thomas Rietveld for Ms Truus Schröder, this small family house is still strikingly modern. With moveable walls and design elements that connect inside with out, it embodies the principals of De Stijl artistic movement and has become one of icons of the Modernism. (Please note, advanced booking is required.)

Rietveld Schroder House Utrecht Netherlands

And don’t forget Miffy! Or Nijntje as this cute white rabbit is known in her home town. Created by the artist Dick Bruna, Miffy is one of the Utrecht’s most famous stars. Visit Nijntje Pleintje, or Miffy Square, to see the statue by Dick Bruna’s son, Marc Bruna, and cross the road at the world’s one and only Miffy traffic light on the Lange Vliestraat.

See amazing Dutch Garden design Floriade May 2022

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