Posted on 16 January 2010 by joost
Did you know that the roses you bought last week were auctioned in Netherlands? Even if you bought them half-way across the globe? It’s true: much as we are huge in dairy, we are huge in flowers as well. We not only grow them here, we are the largest fresh flower marketplace in the world.
Where fresh flowers are a luxury in most parts of the world, they are on every street corner in Amsterdam. Literally. And cheap too: a nice bouquet will set only you back around 7 euros. This ties nicely into the fact that we like things to be cheap.
Jokes aside, the quality of flowers in .nl is awesome and we are lucky because of it. The florists have been very succesful at marketing the message that you “say it with flowers” (zeg het met bloemen, since replaced by the current slogan gek op bloemen – crazy about flowers). Hordes of tourists come to our Keukenhof, which really is quite spectacular to see. Every other year an event called the Floriade is held, showcasing old and current flowers in a big way.
The biggest marketplace for flowers is called Flora Holland. This is an auction where grower meets wholesale. The scale of this operation is immense: every day at 5 AM or so a fleet of trucks comes in and unloads the flowers, the same day a different fleet leaves the terrain and ships the flowers worldwide. The fact that they are immediate neighbours of our largest airport Schiphol helps, too. On a smaller scale, flowers can be purchased on regular markets, in supermarkets, gas stations and on just about every streetcorner in large city centers. Amsterdam even has it’s own flower market (Google Image Search) where you can buy either fresh cut flowers or bulbs, ready to be taken on your airplane home.
So where do all these flowers grow? During spring and summer, huge polders near Aalsmeer and Lisse are dedicated to flowers. Funny thing though. The flowers themselves are cut and discarded. It’s the bulbs they are after. This is the reason this part of Holland is called “bulb area” (bollenstreek). The flowers you can buy are also grown in the bollenstreek, but not on such a massive scale. You can buy flowers throughout the year in Netherlands, and this means in winter they are grown in greenhouses.