Dutch idiom, ‘zet de bloemetjes buiten’ literally translated means, put the flowers outside. Painting the town red is the best translation, but please let me know if you have other ideas as expressions are sometimes so hard to translate directly.
Another flower-related expression in Dutch is ‘achter de geraniums zitten,’ which means retiring and sitting at home watching the world go by from behind the geraniums. Unsurprisingly, it is often used in the negative when people stop working, retirees saying they’re definitely not planning to sit behind the geraniums.
The more traditional Dutch love to fill their windowsills with plants to prevent nosey neighbours looking in. Often elderly people position their chair by the window and watch streetlife from behind the plants, enjoying life vicariously, one assumes. Two roughly equivalent expressions I can think of are; being put out to grass, and going to seed. Being put out to grass has some positive connotations though and ‘achter de geraniums zitten’ only has a negative meaning.
Inspired by fellow Writers Abroad member, Vanessa Couchman and her blog post on Life on La Lune, I too have put the annual red geraniums on the balcony. Or rather the hub did as he is the green-fingered one in the family. Vanessa’s flowers, in terracotta pots in rural France, are in a much more picturesque setting I admit but even so, a few flowers can make a world of difference to a plain apartment building.
The biggest garden centre in Amsterdam is Tuincentrum Osdorp, where we go for the annual Christmas tree argument, it’s also the most expensive and has a dubious sideline in tacky garden accessories. There’s a nice café though and as I’m rather partial to a slice of cake and coffee it’s my garden centre of choice. Not my other half though! He always goes to Bakkers Kwekerij in Nieuw Sloten. Cheaper and a lot less busy. It seems the geraniums will have to come in tonight though as it’s going to freeze!