BILLED as the "Horticultural Event of the Decade" the first thing that strikes you upon entering this vast complex is that Floriade is not Holland's version of our Chelsea Flower Show — and nor does it pretend to be. So don't go expecting an extravaganza of all things horticultural.

Indeed "cultural" perhaps better describes the multi-national flavour of this six-month long event that attempts to blend ingredients from all over the globe to both satisfy and educate its international audience.

The second thing that strikes you is the sheer scale of the Floriade complex, which covers 180 acres.

You need plenty of time and comfy shoes are an essential piece of equipment.

While the complex has its own courtesy transport, you'll soon clock up some miles on foot.

The Floriade site is divided into three main areas, all thoughtfully incorporated into the landscape, which gives you the impression that the designers have lived up to their challenge of illustrating how man and horticulture can exist in harmony with the environment.

Cameras click as soon as people enter the Island Kingdom, a series of internationally themed gardens.

It is very evident here which countries take the event seriously and which don't. This is where Floriade comes into its own.

One moment you're standing among the vineyards of France, the next finds your nose drawn to the powerful spices of India, only then to find yourself watching a Thai lunch being prepared, in Thailand.

Yes, plants are a core element, but in some cases low key compared to the other paraphernalia of national costumes and activities.

From the Island Kingdom you cross the picturesque lake into The Valley of Flowers, mostly a series of themed gardens highlighting many groups of key plants.

To keen horticulturalists this can be a disappointment, but then when you are treated to such views as a stunning swathe of Astilbes in a woodland glade it is almost worth it.

The impressive "Roof" is a state-of-the-art glasshouse complex housing a wide variety of exhibitions including fruit, vegetables, bedding and houseplants.

There is a lot to offer gardeners in this exhibit.

"Spotters Hill", an imposing feature overlooking much of the site, gives visitors a chance to take a bird's eye view of Floriade.

People who have visited say yes they would go again and would encourage others to.

You must remember that Floriade is not an English Flower Show.

In fact if you can remember the National Garden Festivals held in Britain years ago you'd have a better idea of what to expect.

Do allow plenty of time (one full day at least) and take the opportunity to enjoy some of the many other attractions Holland has to offer.