Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day Seven: April 18, 2011

Keukenhof, the largest bulb garden in the world was our last flower excursion. Our driver took us through the back roads filled with tulip fields. The tulips fields were at their peak. We “tip-toed” through the tulips for a photo session.

Darrin arranged a special tour of Keukenhof with Jan Pennings, the president of one of the major Dutch growers and VP of Keukenhof. We learned the history of Keukenhof and its purpose as an exhibition garden for growers. Jan showed us his company’s garden, including their special daffodil, “My Story”. We ventured all over the gardens and discovered amazing varieties of tulips, a fascinating display of daffodils, the orchid house and inspiration gardens.

We had our finale dinner at the 17th century canal home of the former American Ambassador to the Netherlands. We experienced a Dutch “walking dinner” as we toured the restored home overlooking a canal and filled with six floors of art and antiques.

We said good-bye to our wonderful hosts and instructors, Isabel, Lieve, Haruko and Rob joined us at our dinner. We were so lucky that the weather was beautiful every single day. Our trip was filled with people opening up their hearts and homes for us our amazing flower adventure. Until the next adventure…. Laura

Day Six: April 17, 2011

We headed out to Historic Alsmeer for a workshop with Rob Plattel. Rob guided us on a exploration of “decorative” versus “vegetative” design. We created containers out of sticks and bark filled with the most glorious flowers. We examined how to build arrangements which were sensitive to the structure and natural growing patterns of the flowers. Rob provided us with helpful critique of our designs. It was amazing to see how different the arrangements looked which all started with the same materials.

We had a fabulous tour of the original Alsmeer flower auction and historic flower gardens and greenhouses. We saw where the farmers used to bring their boats filled with flowers to be auctioned. This region is a large lilac growing area. (Lilacs are Victoria’s favorite flower!) We were particularly enjoyed seeing a demonstration of how lilacs are grafted. Some even used cuttings from plants dating back to the 1600s .

Rob arranged for us to take a boat ride through the canals surrounding Alsmeer. Exploring the canals on a beautiful spring afternoon was one of the highlights of the trip. We saw lilacs growing on island plots, antique dutch homes and families on picnics.

More of the Magic of the trip!

Day Five: April 16, 2011

Rob Plattel led us on a jam packed day in the flower world of Amsterdam. We were up and on the bus at 5:45 a.m. for a tour of the Alsmeer Flower Auction. We were amazed by the technology behind the auction process all geared to getting the flowers on the 11:00 a.m. KLM flight to New York.

Rob took us to the wholesaler adjacent to the auctions. I could not get over the size and quality of the calla lilies and delphinium. Victoria was enchanted with the roots and all kinds of natural materials.
We then headed to Hortus Botanica,
one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. We had lunch at DeKas, a farm to table restaurant in a greenhouse and nursery.

Rob took a group of us on a tour of his favorite flower shops in Amsterdam. Buying flowers is a regular part of life in Amsterdam. We enjoyed the lush bouquets that locals stop by to bring home or take as gifts. The shop displays had incredible flowers and incorporated interesting natural materials.

Many of the ladies went to the Van Gogh museum in the evening and enjoyed strolling around the city.