International Horticultural Expo Floriade & The Mauritshuis, May 2022
Floriade Expo 2022
Garden Holidays and Escorted Tours
Short City Breaks with a Twist
International Horticultural Expo Floriade & The Mauritshuis, 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.
Based in Utrecht, you will visit The Gardens of Appeltern, De Haar Castle, Hortus Botanicus, The Mauritshuis, Kröller-Müller and Sculpture Park and Amsterdam.
What we love
- Staying in the De Stijl-inspired Park Plaza Hotel in the centre of Utrecht
- Discovering the inspirational International Horticultural Expo Floriade 2022
- Listening to special talks from horticultural experts at fascinating gardens
- Discovering extraordinary museums and fairy tale castles
- Seeing the finest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world
- Visiting two of the Netherlands most interesting and beautiful canal cities
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
- Exploring Hortus Botanicus, one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens, with an expert guide
- Celebrating the Mauritshuis Museum’s 200th birthday with a guided tour of its magnificent collection and entry to the special anniversary exhibition ‘Flower Still Life’
- 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
- Experiencing history on a grand scale at the fairy tale De Haar Castle
- Discovering the latest horticultural trends from The Gardens of Appeltern’s head gardener
- 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
Happy 200th Birthday to The Mauritshuis!
The Mauritshuis, home to the best of Dutch painting of the 17th Century, including masterpieces such as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp and Fabritius’ The Goldfinch. 2022 also marks the museum’s 200th birthday and, to celebrate both this anniversary and the Floriade, it is staging a special ‘Flower Still Life’ exhibition.
A Deeper Dive
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 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.)
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.
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. 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).
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.
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.
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.
The Mauritshuis House, The Hague
Located in the heart of The Hague, the 17th century Mauritshuis House museum is home to the best Dutch paintings from the Golden Age. Among the 841 artworks on display are masterpieces such as Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt, and The Goldfinch by Fabritius.
Take a tour of this incredible collection, wandering through the intimate galleries, peering out of windows to catch glimpses of the Hague, marvelling at the ornate silk-lined walls. Find out about Rembrandt’s most notable way of painting - scumbling, paint on paint thus creating an impasto of pure colour. Peer deep into his self-portrait wondering at the man behind such creative innovation. Be in awe of the technical quality and durability of Vermeer's wonderous works - small but exquisite and utterly enchanting. From the beguiling look of his Girl with a Pearl Earring - to his view of Delft, their aesthetic will linger long with you.
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.
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