Season 1 • Episode 8 - November 1, 2022

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This week we sat down after recovering from our jetlag to talk about our recent trip to Holland and Belgium. We spent two weeks in mid-September touring some great sites with over 20 Garden Time fans. We arrived in Amsterdam and headed to the suburb of Haarlem. This area, like most in the Netherlands, is full of history and we found a lot of it in the city center where we stayed. We enjoyed a stroll through the old town and along the historic canals. The next day the tour really started with a trip to the Aalsmeer Flower Auction. This huge building full of flowers and blooms is the largest in the world. Here, an amazing twenty million flowers from all over the world are sold daily. In the morning we toured the facilities to see where the auction takes place. Hundreds of workers driving carts full of flowers moved around the floor in a dance of plants and blooms as flowers arrived, were sold and then departed to be sent to their final destination: a florist or flower shop near you. After the auction we traveled to the town of Aalsmeer for a tour of the historic gardens where we learned about how they reclaimed thousands of acres of land from the sea. Included with that was a boat tour of the growing facilities and how they force plants to bloom for the cut flower market. All the dikes, dams, canals and pumping have created hundreds of square miles of land. They say that God created the world, but the Dutch created Holland.

The next day we traveled to the Hague and Delft to visit the Mauritshuis Museum. There we marveled at masterpieces such as Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt, and saw how they make Delft pottery. Then we finished the day with a visit to the private garden of Emely Hacker. We were greeted with tea and Stroopwafels before exploring the gardens. Her gardens sit below the level of the local dike, so she is below the water level and she has filled her garden with tons of plants divided by berms and hedges, creating little garden rooms across her property. Check out her site here.

The next day found us traveling to Antwerp, Belgium and on to historic Ghent. We stopped to see the house, garden and studio of Peter Paul Rubens. We also visited a local chocolate shop to pick up some Belgian treats. The following morning we toured the old town of charming Ghent and the afternoon was spent at the Ghent University Botanical Garden. More than 10,000 different plant species in the tropical and subtropical greenhouses of the University Botanical Garden are in bloom and full of special plants. Ryan had a chat with docent Goost Buyse to learn more about plants and their relationship with humans. Goost told us about how the garden helps create a link between the plant world and the current world, and helps to save, propagate and distribute plants to areas around the world.

Then we were on to Bruges a picture perfect, pocket-sized medieval city. Laced with canals, it was at one time, a great North European trading port. Before we wandered through Bruges we were able to visit the private gardens of Chris Ghyselen a local garden designer and author, who has filled his garden with various garden rooms and plants that reflect his designs and techniques. He is a huge fan of Persicarias and his garden is full of them. It was great to wander his garden and see how gardeners in Belgium approach design and plant selections.

September 13th found us at Kinderdijk. Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Nineteen beautiful windmills, built around 1740, stand here as part of a larger water management system to prevent floods. We were able to stop and tour the insides of the windmills to see how they were used to control the water and serve as homes too. Then it was off to the Botanical Gardens of Leiden. The university also houses the Hortus Botanicus of Leiden, founded in 1590, where the tulip was introduced to Western Europe. One of Europe's first botanic gardens, now part of the University of Leiden, it is small and beautifully kept. There is also a Japanese garden named after the scientist Philipp Franz von Siebolt who carried out botanical research in Japan during the 19th century. Part of the botanical garden is a historical reconstruction of the very first version of Leiden University botanical garden. There is also a systematic garden named after the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. Judy had a chance to visit with Robbert Fulmer, a docent and researcher, who led one of our tour groups.

Then it was on to Amsterdam for the final days of our tour. The following day found us at the Rijksmuseum, the home of Rembrandt’s famous Night Watch. The afternoon was free for people to explore and some did a canal tour while others visited the Van Gogh museum, the Anne Frank house or the Hortus Botanicus of Amsterdam. The final day of the tour started with a visit to a local farm where we learned about making Gouda cheese and to see how they make wooden shoes. We then stopped for a lunch at a local bistro that had its own garden.

We wrapped up the tour with a stop at the Floriade Garden Expo! This is Holland's once-in-a-decade World's Fair of Horticulture. Set across a vast, 150-acre site, more than 300 eco-homes have been built as part of the show, with plans for the area to be turned into a green residential neighborhood of 660 homes once it’s finished. The theme was ‘2022: Building, Creating and Designing the Green City of the Future’

It was a great tour and one full of great gardens and lots of other attractions that kept our group on the move and fully engaged. We love taking gardeners to exciting places around the world and showing them wonderful gardens while meeting great gardeners.

If you are interested in a future tour with Garden Time be sure to keep checking out the www.GardenTime.tv website. We will update the tour page with any information on new and upcoming trips. Keep it under wraps but we are just starting to look at a possible tour to Southern Italy and Sicily in the fall of 2023 (mid-to-late September). If you are interested in joining us, drop us a line at gardentime@comcast.net.


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