Tulips are thought of as the flower of Holland. During the Dutch Golden Age tulips were priced higher than gold. The prices for tulip bulbs of new hybrids, varieties, and colors reached extraordinary levels at auctions and among private traders throughout the country. In 1637 it all ended when the prices dramatically dropped catching many traders and investors off guard. It is considered the first investment bubble to burst, like future stock and bond market events.
Although the bubble burst for bulbs as an investment vehicle, growers throughout Holland continued to be the premier cultivators of Tulips throughout the world. Today supported by government initiatives flower agriculture throughout Holland is a major economic engine.
The idea of auctions for bulbs and flowers did not die with the end of the Dutch Golden Age tulip speculation. In fact, Holland has become the worldwide model for flower and plant auctions. Today one of the largest flower auctions in the world takes place in what is arguably a building with the biggest footprint in the world.
Royal FloraHolland is a co-operative that runs a daily weekday auction in Aalsmeer, Netherlands. Centralized Dutch flower auctions began in 1911. Over the years mergers and acquisitions consolidated the Dutch auctions creating the non-profit behemoth Royal FloraHolland.
Royal FloraHolland is a cooperative with over 4000 growers and over 2000 clients
David Howes Smith, Communications Advisor & Press Spokesman
24 hours a day flowers are delivered to this warehouse
Flowers are cooled to 2°C and be kept for up to three weeks
Every week day starting at 5:30 AM Dutch style auctions begin selling plants and flowers from local producers as well as International growers through a combined in house and internet-based platform. In 2016 over 12.5 billion items were sold from growers to wholesalers and retailers around the world.
Already controlling the sales of a substantial percentage of horticultural products produced in Holland, Royal FloraHolland must look to expanding its International reach in order to sustain its growth. As a non-profit, Royal FloraHolland addresses issues within the decorative flower and plant industry that will foster socially responsible sustainable green growth policies.
The decorative flower and plant industry around the world are large consumers of water, herbicides and pesticides. Royal FloraHolland, through funded research and outreach to scientists in conjunction with entrepreneurs works diligently to turn the industry that produces decorative flowers and plants into one that follows a Green Agenda.
Tours of Royal FloraHolland are available throughout most of the year. There are no tours during the extremely busy times that are designated as the “High Season”. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour which begins at the Visitor’s Center at Legmeerdijk 313, 1431 GB Aalsmeer, Netherlands.
Visitors who opt for a self-guided tour will follow along with information panels throughout the journey within the over 9 hectares of auction floor space. The panels explain the auction process in four languages as visitors witness the hectic pace of tens of thousands of blooms and plants being sold every hour.
You Tube Video Short
Visitors can experience a more detailed look at the Royal Flora Holland Auction process by appointment on a guided tour. Guided tours begin at 7:00 AM and are conducted in Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish.
To make a day of it, Visitors should consider the Aalsmeer Combi Ticket. This full tour begins with a 7:00 AM hour and a half tour of the Royal Flora Holland Auction in action. Beginning at 10:00 AM, tour the Historic Garden, a 13,000 square meter Horticultural Museum Historical Garden. The name Aalsmeer is synonymous with Dutch Horticultural, a visit to the Historic Gardens begins with a history that dates to the Dutch Golden Age. It concludes with the innovations that Dutch Growers made in Green House Production.
The Aalsmeer Combi Ticket winds up aboard a 'Westeinder Rondvaart' boat for a tour of discovery of the Westeinderplassen, the lakes of Aalsmeer. Open boats with experienced navigators offer an inside look at the maze of islands which encompass an historical past while maintaining their importance to Aalsmeer today.
Tours of Aalsmeer will not change your view of the tulip, they will however add to your awareness of the synergy between Holland and Horticulture. From the center of the Tulip craze in the 1600s to the center of the decorative flower and plant trade of 2019, Holland is steeped in a history of mass production of decorative horticultural products.
Story by Daniel Dachille and Laine Page
Voice over by Jim Reynolds