Petal to the Metal-Hort Students Abroad

This past May the Horticulture Department, in conjunction with the Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department, launched a new study abroad program, Flowers & Photography in Europe. The trip kicked off in Amsterdam, where after a long overnight flight, the students went directly from the plane and to a bus to Keukenhof, one of the world’s largest bulb plantings. Keukenhof boasts around 7 million flowering bulbs each spring. What could remedy jetlag better than being surrounded by a sea of beautifully colored tulips?

While in Amsterdam the group visited the nearby Rijksmuseum, where they were able to see artwork and artifacts from 800 years of Dutch history. Famous Dutch paintings like Rembrandt’s Nightwatch were on display along with countless others. They were also able to tour the Anne Frank House, which was a very somber and eye-opening experience for the students. The rest of their time in Amsterdam was filled with botanical gardens, canal cruises, the floating flower market and lots of great food! 

On their way to Delft, the next leg of the trip, our students made a stop at Royal FloraHolland, the largest flower auction in the world! The group got a bird's eye view of the bustling warehouse floor where orders of flowers and other plant materials were moved with amazing precision by workers on motorized carts. This was an amazing glimpse into the heart of the Dutch floriculture industry. Students were also able to visit Dummen Orange, a key player in the international ornamental breeding world.

Upon arriving in Delft, the students were captivated by the city's unique atmosphere. Having just departed from the bustling streets of Amsterdam, Delft's tranquil canals and charming architecture transformed it into a picturesque, small-town gem. During their few days in Delft, the group immersed themselves in the city's charm and explored its every corner. In addition to their city adventures, the students embarked on another industry visit, this time to Syngenta. Here, they were treated to a tour of innovative facilities dedicated to transplanting and cultivation. This part of the trip also allowed them to enjoy leisurely visits to several botanical gardens. Adding to their diverse experiences, the students embarked on a day trip to Rotterdam, where they marveled at a stunning rooftop garden. 

Their final stop in the Netherlands was a visit to a UNESCO World Heritage site, Kinderdijk. Here, centuries-old windmills stood as a testament to Dutch ingenuity. The students were fortunate enough to take a guided tour and witness one of these iconic windmills in action, up close and personal. As much as the Netherlands had welcomed them with its charm, it was time for the group to continue their journey.

The next destination on their adventure was Antwerp, Belgium, where they spent a full day exploring the city's rich offerings. Following this, they embarked on yet another captivating day trip, this time to Brugge. The agenda in Brugge included a scenic canal cruise through the city, passing beneath its renowned bridges, and ample time to wander the beautiful streets. 

During their time in Brussels, the students enjoyed a chocolate making workshop. They were guided by experts on how to make two types of traditional Belgian chocolates and customized them to their liking. They also made a visit to the local botanical garden.

As they continued their journey towards Paris, the city's iconic skyline unveiled the Eiffel Tower, offering the students their first glimpse of this iconic landmark. Once in Paris, the group embarked on a tour of the grand Palace of Versailles, meandering through its vast grounds and splendid formal gardens. They then ventured to Claude Monet’s Garden in Giverny, where they had the privilege of touring the artist's inspiring gardens and home. On the final day of their unforgettable trip, the students paid a visit to the Louvre, where they had the opportunity to admire the world-famous Mona Lisa. That evening, they savored a delightful three-course meal, bringing their remarkable journey to a satisfying and memorable conclusion.

This trip was not only about exploration and photography. Along the way, students immersed themselves in photography, refining their skills in lighting, framing, and perspective, but they also learned to be culturally conscious, appreciating diverse cultures and individuals. Moreover, this study abroad adventure offered an enriching opportunity to explore horticulture and its relevance to their lives. It seamlessly integrated the discovery of new landscapes, the gain of new knowledge, both ancient and modern, and the cultivation of their talents as lifelong learners, resulting in a truly holistic and transformative experience.

Zoë Prince, Horticulture Undergraduate Student
Julie Campbell, Assistant Professor of Horticulture

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