The largest flower and ornamental plant show in Latin America is held in a quaint small town founded by Dutch immigrants that is the heart of Brazil's flower industry.
Welcome to Expoflora, complete with an incongruous Dutch windmill greeting visitors at the entrance of the giant flower exhibition center, a two hours' drive from Sao Paulo.
Begun in 1981, the event, broadcast live on the Internet, runs through September 23, with organizers expecting 300,000 visitors.
"Expoflora gives an opportunity to more than 200 Holambra growers to advertise their products for commercial launch. People come from all over Brazil, and it gives the producers an idea of the public reaction to new products," said Paulo Fernandes, a member of the organizing committee.
"It is a sort of window where they can gauge whether to launch a product at the national level or whether they need to make changes," he told AFP. "It is also a chance to launch new trends in terms of colors, varieties," he said.
Flowers are displayed during the Expoflora annual flower exhibition in Holambra in August 2012.
"The show also helps promote Holambra, its natural beauty and aims to promote greater flower consumption throughout Brazil," he added.
Organizers say the flower market in Brazil, a huge country of 191 million people, has been growing 12 to 15 percent per year since 2006, with sales expected to reach around $2.4 billion this year.
"There are good prospects for growth. Brazilians consume very little. Our job is to change that," Fernandes said.
"Only about four percent of the national production is exported, as this requires very special logistics," he pointed out. "The priority for the growers is to increase domestic consumption."
Brazil, Latin America's economic powerhouse, is the sixth largest flower exporter behind the Netherlands, Colombia, Italy, Israel and the United States.
According to Ibraflor, the Brazilian Institute of Floriculture, the country's exports of flowers and ornamental plants totaled $20.6 million last year.
-- A unique diversity of flora --
A Dutch windmill in Holambra, about 150 kms north of Sao Paulo, Brazil in August 2012. Holambra is Brazil's largest flower producer, founded by Dutch immigrants who named it combining the names Holland, America and Brazil.
In Brazil, a country blessed with a unique diversity of flora, commercial cut flowers are often cultivated for special festive occasions, particularly Mother's Day, with roses, orchids, carnations, begonia and the South African protea (also known as sugarbushes) extremely popular.
The Ipe-amarelo is the country's national flower while other commonly grown varieties include the camelia rosa, quesnelia testudo, poppy-papaver rhoeas, begonia, cyclamen persicum and the nymphaea odorota.
"This year's new varieties on display include ornamental eggplants originating from India, daylilies and orchids in all sizes," Benny Rooijan, a local grower whose father immigrated from the Netherlands in 1957, told AFP.
"The amaryllis, originally from South America, is very popular in Europe and we export 95 percent of our production there."
Rooijan said Brazil's main competitors in the exotic flower market are Colombia and Ecuador in Latin America and elsewhere, Kenya.
This year's theme at the 750-square-meter (8,070-square-feet) exhibition center is love, notably celebrated with a rose petal shower.
Among other attractions is a mobile, truck-mounted Heineken beer station, featuring five tanks containing a total 9,000 litres of the world famous Dutch brand.
Expoflora also turned the spotlight on Holambra's rich Dutch heritage.
Orchids are displayed in a scrapped electronic organ during the Expoflora annual flower exhibition in Holambra in August 2012.
Now home to 11,000 people, the town, located 140 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo, was founded in 1948 by Dutch immigrants fleeing their devastated homeland after World War II.
"My grandfather came here after the war to build a new life. The Dutch immigrants founded a settlement initially called Fazenda Ribeirao which years later became Holambra," said 36-year-old local businessman Dennis Peter.
Holambra, he explained, is a contraction of Holland, America and Brazil.
In 1989, a large group of small local growers joined together to form Veiling Holambra Cooperative, South America's leading flower company.
One man who works hard to keep Dutch traditions alive here is 68-year-old Petros Schoanmaker.
Born in northern Holland, he arrived here with his father in 1959 and today acts as the unofficial Dutch ambassador and patriarch of the community.
At Expoflora, he could be seen coaching Dutch Brazilian youths as, wearing traditional costumes and red clogs, they performed folk dances from the old country.