I was very honored to be asked by Rochelle Greayer and Susan Cohan to contribute a small bit to their wildly successful new (and free) online gardening magazine Leaf. When planning their section on international garden markets for this second issue, in the back of one of their minds, they recalled I had written posts (here and here) on Holland’s Bloemenmarkt, a generations-old flower market located on permanently-moored barges in a canal in the heart of Amsterdam. You can read the article it on page 54.
I say the magazine is widely successful because it’s inaugural issue attracted 80,000 subscribers. That’s significant. Small gardening magazines have that kind of a subscription base. This second issue will attract even more subscribers to this FREE gardening magazine. Within a short time, they’ll have an audience rivaling the largest of consumer gardening magazines. This is also the first gardening magazine, of which I am familiar, that uses digital publishing – with professional writing, editing, design, photography and production – with free subscriptions. The advertising in the magazine supports the whole endeavor.
The magazine itself is beautiful in content and design. I say content because most of the gardens and garden features written about are a little more within reach of most gardeners – not like some print magazines that show unattainable garden design (well, unattainable without immense budgets). And gardeners of every skill level will find something of value — from balcony gardeners to gardeners with acres to tend.
A note on the very brief bio with my photo on the contributor’s page, if you happen to see it. I had originally submitted, jokingly, “He has been told that he is the country’s second leading garden tourism expert – by the country’s leading garden tourism expert, Richard Benfield. Mostly, Richard says, because there is no one else.” and it got edited down to, “He is considered one of the country’s leading garden tourism experts.” Whereas I probably know more about garden tourism than the average person on the street, many would argue with the “leading” and “expert” words. My thanks to Buffalo Spree magazine and photographer KC Kratt for the use of a photo of me, shot for an issue of Spree.
I met Susan when she came to Buffalo for a preview of Garden Walk Buffalo and to see Buffalo’s other great gardening assets in 2010, along with 72 other garden writers & bloggers from 23 different states and Canada (Garden Bloggers Buffa10). She’s got a sharp eye (and wit) and fell in love, not only with the gardens, but the gardening culture of Buffalo. But she REALLY fell for Buffalo’s architecture. We’ll get Rochelle here. Every gardener has to make a pilgrimage to Buffalo at least once in their lives.
Of course the article I wrote was edited, as all magazine articles are. No complaints – editing only benefits me. I submit here the full text, if you’re interested.
A highlight of any gardener’s trip to Holland includes Keukenhof, the Aaslmeer Flower Auction, De Hortus Botanicus (the botanical gardens) and the accessible, and free, Amsterdam Flower Market, or Bloemenmarkt.
The French phrase for window shopping, “faire du leche-vitrines” translates to “licking the windows,” (the French really like their tongues) and that phrase suits the walking around and peering into the 15 flower stalls that make up the Flower Market. Plants, flowers, planters, and of course the ubiquitous bulbs – big as footballs or as small as your pinky fingernail – available in singles, bags, boxes, baskets, cans and wooden shoes.
For a country that experienced the first recorded collapse of an economic bubble with what is called Tulip Mania, I expect nothing less. Really. In 1637 the speculative values of tulip bulbs reached 10 times the annual salary of skilled workers. When the prices collapsed, investors lost great sums of money and it damaged the entire Dutch economy. Sound familiar?
Some shops have great displays – fresh-cut tulips, walls of bulb bins, vigorous vines around support columns and ceilings of beautiful dried flowers (allergy alert).
Since the market is “floating” (technically they’re permanently-anchored barges) overhead is low, so prices are reasonable. It is a tourist destination, so vendors cater to us folk, selling souvenirs – magnets, windmill paraphernalia, wooden shoe tschotske, posters and postcards.
And canned goods? I was in tickled awe of the tulips, orange and lemon trees, Birds of Paradise, Sensitive plants, peppers, strawberries, cucumbers, daisies, fennel and even Venus Flytraps – all available in cans.
This’ll be the place to buy your pots AND pot. Cannabis Starter Kits, in cans, can be had – 3 for $10. What a steal! And you get a great selection, well, great names anyway – Skunk #1, Early Skunk, Orange Skunk, Silver Haze, Jack Horror, Hindu Kush, Purple Power, Dutch Hope, and White Widow, to name a few.
Across the way (and by across the way, I mean five steps across the sidewalk), are bars, restaurants, gift shops and, most significantly, the basement cheese shops (with delectable, luxurious local cheeses), making a trip to the Market all the more worth it. There’s even a McDonalds across the street – always home to a diet coke and a free, and clean, bathroom wherever you travel.
The 1862, one-block-long market is frequented by locals for seasonal fresh-cut flowers, houseplants, shrubs, perennials, annuals, herbs, seeds, bulbs and even Christmas trees. It has the feel of a farmer’s market/garden center/souvenir shop with a touch of head shop. The Crayola crayon-like colors, scents of flowers, the bustling crowds, and free cheese tastings in the cheese shops, make a visit here a feast for all the senses.
Want to bring some goods home? Ask the shopkeeper what can cross international lines. Oftentimes it’s the packaging that determines what you can bring back. Some products are clearly labeled, some you’ll need confirmation from the vendors, and some you can have mailed.
They seem to make the “floating” market a signature claim. I think they should be promoting themselves as the only flower market in the world with free cheese samples.
Location & Hours:
Located on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein
Open Year round – Mondays-Saturdays, 9-5:30, Sundays 11-5:30
Jim Charlier is president of Garden Walk Buffalo (the largest garden tour in America), he’s also a cofounder, and on the planning committee, of the National Garden Festival taking place throughout Western New York. He has been told that he is the country’s second leading garden tourism expert – by the country’s leading garden tourism expert, Richard Benfield. Mostly, Richard says, because there is no one else. When he’s not off jetting someplace to see gardens to blog about (at ArtofGardening.org), he runs his own graphic/advertising design studio (JCharlier.com), designing everything from logos to books to billboards.