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This vast park/exhibit is a great place to take the kids or just explore on your own with a camera. The scenery is awesomely photogenic, and teams of landscape artists are constantly roving the grounds making sure everything is perfect.

Floriade is a fantastic presentation from the Netherlands to the world of its scientific mastery over gardening and evidence of the Dutch role as a leading horticultural knowledge center. The 65 hectare space is filled with gardens, greenhouses, technological displays, lakes, waterways, paths and mazes ~ and all these can be seen from high atop Spotter’s Hill. Held once every ten years – this is the fifth Floriade! The major attractions of the exhibit are the Horticultural Experience, Wonderwaterland, Spotter’s Hill, and the Gardens of Emotion.

Of the two park entrances I chose to enter at the South Entrance, and quickly found myself in another world of beauty and space perfumed by billions of flowers. This is the Holland you dream of – miles and miles of lush landscaped areas with flowers everywhere.

At the South Entrance you are on the banks of the Harlemmermeer Lake, which is surrounded by the most natural areas of the park – if that’s possible. Walking around the shore you’ll find nature areas and a variety of garden examples, and a fine open-air theater in one corner.

Comfort and enjoyment are planned into this experience, with nice wheelchairs available to cruise the easy pathways and areas of the park. Amongst the gardens and paths are nicely designed cafes literally covered with baskets of flowers, offering cold drinks and more stuff for tourists - with places to sit and relax under umbrellas or shady plantings. In the main area under the Roof is a fine restaurant, and you’ll find ice cream stands here there and everywhere through the park.

After touring the lake area, I walked across the bridge to the other side of the park and checked out Spotter’s Hill with its amazing views all the way to Haarlem. From here you get a great vantage point of the entire place and if tired or curious, spend 1.50 euros to ride up and down the pyramid shaped hill in a futuristic air-conditioned battery-powered self-driving car. The sculpture dominating the top of the hill is a good reference point to use when wandering around lost in this maze.

A visit to the Horticultural Experience gives an amazing educational insight into the growers, traders and organizations that make Dutch horticulture such an important part of their economy – and life. The underground exhibits are found in the center of a maze of islands covered with examples of how they do it Dutch style.

You can’t miss the Wonderwaterland exhibit, the path runs right through it - and inside is the “Timeship” which takes you through 10,000 years of geology explaining the area, and then details how the Dutch have worked to hold back the sea and drain more and more land for agricultural and living space over the ages.

The most amazing greenhouse I’ve ever visited is located near the Roof, and the high-technology inside rivals anything that NASA is doing. Displays of hydroponic miracles are here to be seen, with tomatoes as large as your head. Cucumbers as long as your arm dangle from vines high overhead, and peppers glowing red and green decorate their bushes like Christmas tree ornaments. Huge trays of plants on moving beds are constantly rotating to get the best sunlight, with electronic keypads at the row ends to computer control the flow of nutrients and water. This is an amazing greenhouse, with a computer controlling the windows opening and closing for air, and shades in case there is too much sun. Heaters come on line at the computer’s will, maintaining a perfectly controlled environment with virtually no pests – therefore this greenhouse garden is completely organic according to the technicians I interviewed on the spot.

And finally I entered the Roof, which the energy firm Nuon built with 30,000 square meters of solar collecting electricity producing cells. At one end of the “Roof” is the Great Taste Restaurant, which supposedly offers organic edibles from the gardens. The size of four football fields, the interior of the Roof is filled with the most amazing displays of decorative plant and flower arrangements you’ll probably ever see in your life. These displays from around the world vary from desert landscape scenes to elaborate Chinese and Thai pagodas replete with decorations of orchids and other exotic flowers. But don’t let the kids miss the collection (HUGE) of carnivorous plants! They’re here for you to actually touch and enjoy – stick a twig into a Venus Fly Trap and watch it snap shut!

Just past the Roof is the North Entrance, collection of tourist shops and cafes, restrooms and a nice place to have a seat and relax. The visit to Floriade was fun, and if you’re stuck in the city all summer, at least visit Floriade to get some relief.

More Info: Open daily from April 6th 2002 until October 20, 2002. Park opens at 9:30 am and closes at 7 pm. Ticket price is 17 euros for adults, 8.50 for kids. To get to Floriade it is easy to go to any ticket window of the Nederlands Spoorwagen (Dutch Railway) and buy an entrance ticket as well as the transportation tickets for around 22 euros from Amsterdam Centraal to Schiphol via train, then the Zuidtangent bus to Floriade. Buses and trains run every half hour. If you must drive, there is parking.

Address: Harlemmermeer Lake
City: Amsterdam
Phone: 0900 0555
Added: June 25th 2002
Reviewer: Martin Trip
Related Link: Floriade Website
Hits: 3511


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