International Horticultural Expo Floriade & The Open Garden Days, June 2022
Floriade Expo 2022
Garden Holidays and Escorted Tours
Short City Breaks with a Twist
International Horticultural Expo Floriade & The Open Garden Days, June 2022
International Horticultural Expo Floriade & The Open Garden Days, June 2022
Our 5 nights/6 days programme combines a full day at the International Horticultural Expo Floriade with visits to several beautiful gardens, both public and private, one sculpture park, one museum, one pottery and three canal ringed cities.
What we love
Staying in the De Stijl-inspired Park Plaza Hotel in the centre of Utrecht
Exploring the inspirational International Horticultural Expo Floriade 2022
Discovering the private gardens hidden behind the Amsterdam’s most elegant canal-side houses
Hearing the fascinating history of Amsterdam’s Museum Van Loon
Taking a guided tour of the extraordinary botanical garden, Hortus Botanicus Leiden
Creating a blue and white tile at the Royal Delft Pottery
Strolling in the beautiful Gardens of Appeltern and meeting the founder, Ben Van Ooyen
Seeing the finest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world
Visiting three of the Netherlands' most interesting and beautiful canal cities – Utrecht, Delft and Amsterdam
Experiences you will treasure
Staying in Utrecht with time to explore this quintessentially Dutch, canal-crossed city at your leisure. Look out for the Miffy traffic lights!
A full day to explore the International Horticultural Expo Floriade 2022 and discover a unique view of the cities of the future through inspirational exhibitions, innovative concepts, and remarkable attractions
Discovering the private gardens hidden behind the Golden Age houses along Amsterdam’s Herengracht and Keizersgracht, known as the “best kept secret in the city.”
Listening to the curator of Amsterdam’s Museum Van Loon talk about the fascinating history of the house, the garden, and the family who lived here
Exploring one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens, Hortus Botanicus Leiden, with an expert guide
Exploring the medieval city of Delft, synonymous with Johannes Vermeer, William of Orange and the blue and white pottery that bares its name
Creating your own Delft blue tile at a workshop with an expert craftsperson at the iconic Royal Delft Pottery
Visiting the remarkable Kröller-Müller Museum, home to one of Europe’s largest sculpture gardens and the second largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world
Discovering the latest horticultural trends at The Gardens of Appeltern and hearing its founder Ben Van Ooyen talk about this inspirational green space
Visiting Amsterdam, the city of Rembrandt, the Dutch East and West India Companies, Anne Frank, and canals galore!
What people say
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?
Once a year, in the third week of June, a secret gem is revealed to visitors to Amsterdam – more than 30 beautiful private gardens tucked away behind the elegant, Golden Age houses on the Herengracht and Keizersgracht. Discover them with us and experience Amsterdam behind the scenes.
A Deeper Dive
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.
The canal-ringed city of Delft has a rich history; synonymous with the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer and the iconic blue and white pottery that bares the city’s name, it is also the burial place of William of Orange.
History and Culture
Vermeer Centre – see the studio where Vermeer painted 'The Girl with a Pearl Earring' and 'View of Delft', along with high quality, full size images of the artist’s entire oeuvre.
Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk – the magnificent old and new churches dominate the inner city. Visit Vermeer's grave at Oude Kerk, with its leaning tower and famous stained-glass windows, and see where William of Orange was laid to rest at Nieuwe Kerk.
Museum Prinsenhof – immerse yourself in the history of Delft at this museum set in the former court of William of Orange.
Royal Delft Pottery
Royal Delft has been creating iconic Delft Blue since 1653 and the pottery in Delft is last in the world to still be producing the hand-painted ware that bares the city’s name. See how the iconic pottery is made in this video:
Shopping and eating
The old city has plenty to tempt shoppers. The streets surrounding the Market Square - Oude Delft, Choorstraat, Voldersgracht, Wijnhaven, Hippolytusbuurt and Vrouw Juttenland - are filled with art galleries and one-off fashion and vintage boutiques.
Food-wise, there is something for every taste and budget. Two highlights are Visbanken, which was involved in the fish trade in the Middle Ages and is still the best place to go for a traditional Dutch herring or mackerel sandwich, and Het Gulden ABC, who’s delectable ‘poffertjes’ (Dutch pancakes) have been enjoyed by all who visit - even Bill and Hillary Clinton stopped by to try one.
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.
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.
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.
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 every day 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.
Watch Ben talking to us about the garden here https://youtu.be/jbM9OIa52aw
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 known by its modern name - 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.
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.
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 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 silver and porcelain. Behind the house is a beautiful garden, laid out in formal style and bordered on the far side by the classical façade of the coach house. This original unity of canal house, garden and coach house is unique. This tour includes a talk about this fascinating building from one of the museum’s curators.
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).
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.)
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 centre 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.)
And don’t forget Miffy! Or Nijntje as this cute white rabbit is known in her hometown. 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.
Travel Inspiration - Now Booking
You might also be interested in the following tours
We'd love to hear from you
We look forward to arranging your future holiday, and with over twenty years of experience we are here to help with any questions you may have.
0800 298 0588
Like to learn more? Just give us a call or send an email. We're here to help!