The AIPH-approved World Horticultural Expo, Floriade 2022, delivers important messages about the power of plants for the survival of the planet, and the health and comfort of city residents.
The theme of Floriade 2022, ‘Growing Green Cities’ demonstrates the creative, green, sustainable solutions required to make resilient green cities a reality. There are many ways that Floriade 2022 presents these messages to appeal to a wide audience, along with the reasons why they matter, and what individuals and businesses can address.
The first message that the anticipated two million visitors to the Expo receive is the positive experience of being surrounded by the beauty and diversity of nature. The 60 ha site has an expo that has international and national pavilions and gardens that align with the four sub-themes: Greening the City: more greenery; Feeding the City: improved food supplies; Healthying the City: more conscious living; Energising the City: smarter energy supplies.
Around the Expo site, there are many deliberate messages about plants and the evidence-based contributions that they make to our urban lives. Planting of the 180.000 perennials and 90.000 shrubs across the site is arranged in alphabetical groupings of the first letter of their botanical name. This intriguing idea of the Green City Arboretum was led by Niek Roozen in collaboration with the Municipality of Almere and Jacqueline van der Kloet.
Plant labels identify plants and plant combinations in each zone, enabling visitors to learn the names of plants that they like, and how to use them in gardens. Trees have labels that describe their specific value, including the ability to moderate the warming of the built environment (Fraxinus mandsurica ‘Macan’), having flowers that attract bumble bees (Aesculus neglecta), to extract nitrogen dioxides from the air (Malus trilobata), or that are tolerant of heat and drought (Firmania simplex). QR codes are printed on plant labels for those who would like to know more. The codes link to a Floriade website that provides more detail about the growing conditions and characteristics of each plant.
At the international pavilions, visitors can experience the landscape and plants of different climatic zones. All the plants in the Italy pavilion are produced by Italian nurseries and demonstrate a contemporary Mediterranean garden. Beyond the visual messages, the Qatar pavilion immerses visitors in traditions and culture that enable horticulture to thrive in a hostile climate. The UAE pavilion has interactive imagery to get the message across about how science is providing evidence of the value of halophytic plants, showcasing the work of the International Centre of Biosaline Agriculture. ‘Biotopia’, the pavilion of Germany includes interactive installations to engage visitors in the questions and solutions of energy, water, and greenery in cities.
Starting long before the opening of the Expo, the Floriade Dialogues were a series of webinars that explored the challenges that cities face and innovative solutions that are being developed and implemented. These webinars address a number of topics that all consider how to accelerate green innovation. The webinars continue through the six-month duration of Floriade 2022 and include a Green City conference on 4th and 5th July 2022 that focuses on long term thinking for decision making in the current urban state of short term problems.
There is also a message of collaboration and cooperation in planning and planting the site, with tree nurseries around the Netherlands supplying tens of thousands of plants. Local nurseries collaborated to act as drop-off points which made transport of this large number of plants to the site more efficient.
Floriade 2022 is open until 9th October 2022. This Expo delivers many messages, but the key message here is to encourage you to visit and see for yourself. It is an impressive display.
This article first appeared in the May 2022 FloraCulture International.