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April, 2007

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Dutch flowers draw attention
Travel Talk
by Mike Cohen
A couple I know have been married more than 50 years. He recently took early retirement.
His number one objective these days? “I want to travel,” he said, “especially to Europe.” Holland is on his list. Holland’s world-famous spring gardens, the Keukenhof, is in full bloom again.
The 58th edition of the international Keukenhof flower exhibition was opened by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the eldest daughter of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. The 2007 theme is “Linnaeus: King of Flowers Turns 300.”
This year marks the third centenary of the birth of the Swedish physician and botanist Carolus Linnaeus. Keukenhof chose this theme to accentuate the vital role that Linnaeus played in the world of bulb cultivation. To this day, tulips are named according to a classification system developed by Linnaeus in the 18th century. Blue and yellow will be the predominant tones in many of the plant arrangements this year. An inspirational garden  based on Sweden’s national colors and exhibitions of Swedish art will also be on display. The theme was launched a few months ago when a group of children planted bulbs for the mosaic of Pippi Longstocking, the heroine from the children’s books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. The huge portrait of Pippi, approx. 52 x 36 feet, is now blossoming.
The Keukenhof Gardens, with more than seven million bulbs, features a number of events including an exhibit on the use of flowers in hat making. The exhibit will also feature hats as part of an international hat making competition “Royal Hats.” Top hat designers and artists from all over the world have been invited to let their imaginations soar. Visitors can also feast their eyes on a selection of real royal hats, lent for the exhibition.
Keukenhof was originally the herb garden (“keuken” means kitchen in Dutch) of the Countess of Holland, Jacoba van Beyeren (1401-1436). In 1840, the horticultural architects Zocher, a father and son, designed the park that forms the basis of the current Keukenhof.
The 80-acre park, one hour from Amsterdam and renowned for the millions of tulips, narcissi, hyacinths and other bulb flowers,  is  open  till May 20.
Info: visit www.keukenhof.com email Mike Cohen at info@mikecohen.ca. , or visit his travel site at sandboxworld/travel.

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