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GardenSMART :: The Spring Gardens of Holland and Belgium

The Spring Gardens of Holland and Belgium

By Alki Tours
Photographs courtesy of Alki Tours

This year GardenSMART embarks on one of our most exciting adventures ever and we'd love to have you join us! Spend 11 days with two garden experts, an art historian and sommelier as we see some of Holland and Belgium's most amazing sights. Many of these gardens are GardenSMART host Eric Johnson's favorite horticultural destinations in the world. If you love gardening, history, river cruising or art, this trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Our wonderful trip begins in historic Amsterdam where you will stroll among this great city's gabled houses, bridges, and canals while learning why the Golden Age glimmered so brightly here. We'll take an historic walk through the heart of the city stopping to visit the Anne Frank House for a thought-provoking look at the hideaway of Anne and her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. In Amsterdam you will get up-close and personal with the artistic genius of Rembrandt and Vermeer and Van Gogh with visits to the remarkable Rijksmuseum.

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We will board the brand new MS Amadeus Silver II for a week of pure indulgence with fabulous cuisine, wine and beer. Along the way, we will stop and see incredible sights, including Europe's biggest building — filled with acres of flowers — learning about the worldwide distribution of beauty that begins each day at the Aalsmeer Flower Auction. Twenty million flowers from all over the world are sold here daily! Watch the GardenSMART team as they film shows to be aired in 2018.

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Enjoy cruising past small towns and villages on the way to Arnhem and the Palace Het Loo. Travel back in time as we tour the 300-year-old palace that was built for William III as a gentleman's summer retreat. Afterwards, wander the gardens punctuated with fountains as dramatic as those found at Versailles.

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We'll discover how a country stays dry when nearly half of its land is below sea level. Over centuries, the Dutch created an immense system of dams, barriers, and dikes for protection and windmills to drain the polder of Kinderdijk. We will see the 19 windmills of Kinderdijk built in 1740, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Our evenings will be spent dining on fabulous local chef-prepared food and beer and wine from the region. You will also enjoy nightly lectures about gardening, art history, film and more. Let the sound of the lapping water lull you to sleep.

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Meet with a local expert for a walking tour of the historic center of Ghent. We will visit soaring St. Bavo's Cathedral, home to Van Eyck's sublime altarpiece, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, which was stolen and hidden by the Nazis during World War II.

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Next we'll meet our driver and board a bus for a drive to the WWI battlefields around Ypres. Half a million soldiers were killed here, making it one of the deadliest — and today the most hallowed — stretches of land along the Western Front. With the aid of a local expert, we'll tour the American Cemetery, visit a thought-provoking museum, and see "the fields where poppies grow." Our guide will introduce us to the pedestrian-friendly streets and alleyways of Gothic Bruges, including a tour of the Memling Museum — showcasing several of Hans Memling's masterpieces, all housed within one of Europe's oldest medieval hospitals. Finally, enjoy Utrecht's Kasteel de Haar, the largest castle in Holland.

This dream trip is May 6-16, 2018, during peak tulip season. This is your opportunity to see the very best of Holland and Belgium with the experts. Call Alki Tours 800-895-2554 or The best is yet to come... we have a flower lover's special with up to a $2200 dollar discount!

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By Heather Blackmore for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Heather has written a great article about 5 new annuals that take the heat and thrive all summer long. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

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