Visions of the future at Floriade 2022

We are delighted to have been commissioned by EuroParcs to make a show garden for Floriade 2022 in the Netherlands. Floriade is an international horticultural show not unlike Britain’s Chelsea Flower Show, although it happens only once every ten years. This year it is in Almere, the newest city in the Netherlands which was built on land reclaimed from the North Sea. The festival runs from April until October and is expected to attract about 2 million visitors.

We are especially pleased to be involved with Floriade this year, as its theme of finding creative, green solutions to the problems posed by modern urban life dovetails with SMLA’s own commitment to sustainability. EuroParcs has sixty-four holiday parks in the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria. Like us, the company is fully committed to sustainability, and it sees Floriade as a valuable opportunity to introduce the public to the concept of sustainable holidays.

We have called our design Within Nature. It captures the experience of visiting EuroParcs today, while simultaneously expressing the company’s vision for an ever more sustainable future. We have built the garden around two houses. One will already be familiar to anyone who has visited a EuroParc, while the other is a brave gesture towards the future design of holiday homes on their sites. Our garden is a vignette of the beautiful, biodiverse, undulating landscapes in which all their cutting edge, carbon-neutral holiday homes will sit.

Within Nature is a naturalistic landscape, and we have worked to re-create the kind of natural plant community that exists in the wild. We did this by combining structural plants with ground cover and a rich mix of perennials and flowering bulbs. A matrix of six grasses, ranging from the magisterial Stipa gigantea to delicate Briza media fill any gaps in the planting and forms a graceful fusion between all the elements of the design. Working – as we always do – towards a more biodiverse future, we have also installed the piles of logs we like to call ‘insect hotels’ on site.

When Floriade is over, the company will take the garden to one of their park sites. With this in mind, we were determined to devise a planting palette that would delight and entertain holidaymakers throughout the year. The first spring visitors will be able enjoy the scent of Viburnum bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’, and the unfurling fronds of a rich collection of ferns planted in shady places all over the garden. In summer they will be able to wander along winding paths made from fruit pips and shells, moving from light to shade among beautiful trees such as Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris), River birch (Betula nigra), chosen for the year-round interest of its rugged, peeling bark, and Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) known for its tolerance of urban conditions, and the long, elegant panicles of yellow and orange flowers it bears in August, and its paper thin, lantern-like seed pods. And as the season ends, it will begin to blaze with wonderful autumn colour.

Most people take their holidays in summer, however, and we have created a succession of fabulous flowering and scented perennials and shrubs to set the garden alight in the busiest months. Dramatic orange and cream foxtail lilies, spires of lovely Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Adoration’, graceful and richly scented Acidanthera murielae, a scattering of both deep purple and white alliums, vivid ‘Perry’s Blue’ Siberian irises and echinacea, all basking in the sun, while the bold leaves of Rodgersia pinnata, with its sprays of pink summer flowers will be thriving in shadier, damper corners of the garden. Within Nature is all about enjoying life outdoors, and among this vibrant selection of trees and plants visitors will find both a fire pit and a pizza oven.

At the following link, you will find the master plan as well as the full planting list for the garden. We are present regularly throughout the opening period and if you would like to meet with us to know more about the garden please drop us an email.

After 9 October the garden will be relocated to one of the EuroParcs locations.

Photography: Alister Thorpe