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Dear Coast, from the flower farmer of Hjørundfjord

Per-Gunnar Holmberg has dedicated his life to flowers. Bouquets of his flowers bring people extra joy when Norway celebrates its national day on 17 May.

This is the story of Per-Gunnar Holmberg and his wife Evelyn, who run a flower farm in a tiny village on the edge of Hjørundfjord, one of Norway’s prettiest fjords.

When Per-Gunnar took over the family farm, started by his father in 1952, the soil was dedicated to growing food, such as cabbages and tomatoes. But Per-Gunnar’s passion had always been flowers, so he decided to follow his heart and grow geraniums, pretty petunias, and brightly coloured begonias.

Even with this change of crop, he has kept one important aspect of farm life the same. Like his father, who chose to pay local people to plant and harvest, Per-Gunnar continues to employ local people to plant and pick the flowers. That personal touch is as important now as it ever was, and helps to support a circular local economy that we at Hurtigruten love to see.

The beauty of Per-Gunnar’s flowers is on full display on one particular day of the year. Arrive in Norway on 17 May and you’ll be treated to all us Norwegians in full celebration mode. People fill the streets, wearing smiles and traditional clothes called bunad. The Norwegian flag is flying high everywhere you look. And a party atmosphere is in the air with not a care in the world.

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Syttende Mai, as we call 17 May, is our Constitution Day. It’s also the height of spring, always a beautiful time to visit our country, so perhaps the weather, especially in southern Norway, will be as warm and friendly as the crowds.

With it being spring, we are naturally full of vårfølelse – ‘a spring feeling’ that we associate with sunshine, melting snow, birds, and the optimism of summer being right around the corner.

And then, of course, there are the flowers. On 17 May, bouquets in red, white, and blue are almost as abundant as the flags. They decorate our homes, our hair, and even the many festive cakes piled across our tables.

No surprise that 17 May is one of the most important days in a florist’s year. Like flower farms up and down the country, Per-Gunnar’s work is central to the local 17 May celebrations, when red, white, and blue flowers cover everything from the streets to our ships. While we are busy preparing our bunad and planning our breakfast feast, Per-Gunnar is carefully watering his flowers and arranging them into displays that embody the festive spirit of the day ahead.

From us at Hurtigruten, thank you to Per-Gunnar, other local flower farmers, and local florists for all their hard work in helping us celebrate 17 May with the beautiful blossoms of spring.

Wherever you happen to be sailing on 17 May, explore the ports to see the celebrations. It’s a chance to experience Norway at its happiest, and everyone is welcome. While you’re there, please take a moment to admire the work that went into creating the beautiful floral displays. You’ll make Per-Gunnar, flower farmers, and florists across Norway very happy!

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