Poland blossoms at Keukenhof 2012

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

You know spring has arrived in the Netherlands when the Keukenhof flower park opens its gates to the public. This year the massive tourist attraction not far from the Dutch capital, Amsterdam - has an unintended newsworthy aspect. The Netherlands' fellow EU member state Poland is a central theme.

This floral focus on Poland comes just as a website run by the Dutch Freedom Party of Geert Wilders has been causing controversy and making headlines across the continent. The internet 'hotline' invites users to file complaints about immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe.

This year, the Keukenhof aims to help promote the image of Poland in the Netherlands and vice versa. But the campaign was planned long ago, having nothing to do with the current contoversy about the so-called 'report a Pole' website. 

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Gratitude
The Keukenhof wants to show its visitors the delights of beautiful Poland and that the Dutch horticultural sector owes a great deal to the many Polish workers who have helped keep it functioning in recent years. Furthermore, Poland accounts for a significant portion of foreign sales of Dutch bulbs and cut flowers. It is "the seventh [largest] export market", according to Keukenhof marketing manager Wim van Meerveld.

The Keukenhof's 2012 season was opened today, 21 March, by Poland's 'first lady'. Anna Komorowska, the wife of President Bronsilaw Komorowski, was accompanied by Princess Margriet, sister of Queen Beatrix. Former deputy foreign minister Frans Timmermans gave a speech focussing on ties between the Netherlands and Poland.

Musical blooms
With the park now open again, the main point of interest is, of course, the flowers. A large attractions this year is a giant flower mosaic which forms a protrait of Poland's national composer Frédéric Chopin. Poland is also featured in a number of other exhibitions and displays.

The Keukenhof - in Lisse - is open to visitors until 20 May.

(tf/kh)

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