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Dutch Treat
On the bed of an inland sea, a garden festival has given birth to a new park.
By Robert Holden

photo by Linda Paull Garrison

Once every decade, a garden festival called Floriade showcases Dutch horticulture and produces a new and permanent public park. Queen Beatrix opened Floriade 2002 on April 5, and by the time the festival closed on October 20, 2.1 million people had visited the newly constructed 160-acre exposition grounds west of Amsterdam near Schiphol Airport. Now the exhibits have been removed, and the site is being adapted for recreational and civic uses for the municipality of Haarlemmermeer, which plans to welcome the public back to the site this July.

European garden festivals like the Floriade originated in the 19th century. The Germans, for instance, had their Reichsgartenschauen until World War II, and in 1951 the first federal Gartenschau took place in Hanover. Influenced by the success of the German festivals, Holland held its first Floriade in 1960, in Rotterdam, and subsequently in Amsterdam in 1972 and 1982, and near The Hague in 1992.

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