Subtle fragrance and natural elegance combine at Keukenhof’s Annual Freesia Show

Award-winning Freesia ‘Strawberry Swirl’.

The Annual Freesia Show returned to Keukenhof’s Oranje Nassau Pavilion between 28 March and 2 April 2024. The single-petalled, red Freesia ‘Merci’ submitted by P. Hofland won the coveted Goemans Trophy.

Designed by floral arranger Heleen Valstar – born the daughter of a Freesia grower – Keukenhof’s Annual Freesia show featured the best Dutch Freesia growers have to offer.

True to tradition, the Freesia Show included a Best in Show contest. A panel of seven expert judges evaluated the flower’s quality from the growers’ and traders’ perspectives.

Around ten local growers from across the Netherlands displayed 75 spectacular vases, each filled with 25 stems. Freesias came in a rainbow of colours, including yellow, white, blue, red, peach, salmon, mauve and pink.

Apart from the professionally judged entries, the show included many Freesia arrangements, with 5,000 blooms on display.

“This is a well-curated show. Freesias are definitely among Keukenhof’s eye-catchers,” said Freesia grower Ton Vreugdenhil from Maasdijk, a specialist servicing primarily UK retail with cut and potted Freesia and one of the event’s organizers.

In his opening speech on Thursday, 28 March, he highlighted the need for generational renewal in the Freesia industry. That evening, he was happy to see several young professionals active in growing, breeding, and trading a flower known for its natural elegance.

Freesia’ Paris’.

Vreugdenhil ended by saying he felt immensely proud to see how, by joining forces at Keukenhof, the industry is raising the profile of a flower that far too often risks going unnoticed simply because it is not present in sales outlets.

With 100 percent of Dutch Freesia breeders (Van den Bos Flowerbulbs, Penning, Hofland, Tesselaar, and Akerboom) and the Netherlands’ top 10 Freesia growers participating, Keukenhof’s Freesia event is strongly supported by the industry.

Currently, about 50ha of Dutch glasshouses are down to Freesias. Twenty-seven years ago, the area dedicated to Freesia growing was 450ha. The trend to an even smaller area continues, with an ongoing decline in the number of growers. At the world’s largest floral trading hub, Royal FloraHolland, 167 million stems change hands yearly; 118 million and 49 million are single-flowered and double-flowered, respectively. Last year, the average auction price for all Freesia categories combined was 23 cents, up from 21 cents in 2022.

Sparkling trophies went to the entrants who grew the most beautiful Freesias.

In the single-petalled Freesias Grower category, soft pink ‘Monaco’ from’ s-Gravenzande-based grower Barendse scooped up the highest honour. ‘Monaco’ was also the winner in the single-petalled Freesia Breeder category, with breeder Van den Bos Flower Bulbs from Honselersdijk submitting the variety. The cultivar’s pink petals and yellow throat combined make for an exceptionally photogenic flower.

In the double-petalled Freesia Grower category, Tesselaar Freesia from Heerhugowaard walked away with the first prize for its double-petalled and softly pink-hued Freesia ‘Rosario’. The jury praised the growers for achieving top-quality, eye-catching blooms that rise above sturdy stems. In the same category, this time around for breeders, Penning Freesia from Honselersdijk won with the double-petalled Freesia’ Strawberry Swirl’ featuring veined petals in pink, creamish and mauve hues. It is a spectacular but still rare appearance. So, the propagation of corms is in full swing.

Grower  Barendse from’ s-Gravenzande received the Keukenhof Award for his display of top Freesias’ Fuego’ and ‘Monaco’.

Following a rigorous judging process, the jury awarded Freesia ‘Merci’, submitted by P. Hofland BV, with the 47th Goemans Trophy, named after the Dutch breeder who created the first double-flowered Freesia. The single-petalled ‘Merci’- a bred from Hofland’s Mart Poortman – rightly deserves to win the Goemans Trophy, said members of the jury who referenced the variety’s slender stems high 70cm, and beautiful blooms that rise above foliage that is not too long and as such allows for easy harvesting.

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