Escape to Holland

Escape to the Dutch countryside. Visit sweeping farmland speckled with whitewashed windmills or explore prairie terrain painted with punches of cherry, indigo and canary-colored tulips.

Don't worry, you don't have to go far.

Your passport to Holland is the 63rd annual National City Cleveland Home and Garden Show running Feb. 4 to 12 at the I-X Center. This year's theme, "Holland in Bloom: a Dutch Masterpiece," showcases the culture's unique architecture and rich art scene. And as global celebrations mark Rembrandt's 400th birthday, Cleveland will pay tribute to the master through floral expression and delights for indoors and out, while honoring Northeast Ohio's Dutch population. Authentic landscape, innovative green-building techniques, progressive interior design concepts and a marketplace of Dutch wares will provide an authentic tour of the country, says Rob Attewell, show manager and vice president of Expositions Inc.

"When you say you are doing a tribute to Holland, people immediately think of tulips and bulbs," Attewell says.

For Jim Weidner, president of The Weidner Group in North Ridgeville, recreating Holland's flat terrain, straight canals and rustic atmosphere for the entry feature garden meant mixing native grasses with characteristic floral accents. "We created an old farm setting," he says.

A backdrop of pine trees forms a border for 16,000 tulips, river birch trees and flowering pears and crabapples. A twin set of windmills and bridge spanning a canal serves as a gateway to this year's expanded show.

On the other side, attendees will find more of everything: floor space for gardens, diverse home designs and displays in the designer showcase.

Twenty indoor acres filled with home and garden trends are designed to spark ideas. Beyond tulips, landscape architects will incorporate trends such as outdoor kitchens in their designs. "Landscapers will make sure they showcase the type of work consumers look to purchase and put in their properties," Attewell says.

A Celebrity Garden display dresses up spaces for local media names such as Q104's Jen Toohey and the WKYC-Channel 3 Weather Team.

Meanwhile, this year's "Inside and Out" Designer Showcase will include eight distinct room concepts. Learn how to create a transitional room, craft room, game room or even a gentleman's office ? something for every style. Professionals offer renovation tips and design hints, from choosing colors to painting techniques.

You can take these ideas home. After all, ideas will be center stage with a host of do-it-yourself seminars and how-to demonstrations and, for gardening enthusiasts, classes to spruce up outdoor spaces. Want your own cottage garden? Learn how during a seminar. How about a morning room to view your landscape? Check out the Designer Showcase for clues.

If you seek structural inspiration, Dutch-inspired green-building techniques dominate the Boulevard of Dreams. A modern H-Haus reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright is built with every energy-efficient bell and whistle, from earth-friendly cabinetry to eco-minded landscaping.
A round Deltec Home with 17 sides and 180-degree views is hurricane resistant. A timber frame home boasts 9-foot ceilings and displays exquisite craftsmanship. The four-cube modular structure from Superior Homes is different than past Dream homes, which leaned toward traditional, Attewell says. In fact, all of this year's homes twist traditional by providing the same energy-efficient, clean-lined design typical in Holland.

"I've never seen this much variety," he says.

As the largest home and garden show in the country, the exposition leaves little ground uncovered. Find interior accents, garden tools and big-ticket items such as blueprints for a new home. You can even take home a bit of Holland from the open-air Marketsquare, which showcases Dutch commerce, Attewell says.

And if you're lucky, you really could stamp your passport. The Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions is raffling a grand prize trip for two to Amsterdam. Regardless, the show will charm you with an escape from Old Man Winter. "You can enjoy the flowers and fragrances of spring in the winter when it's snowing outside," Attewell says.

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