There are many gardens to see and visit in The Netherlands reflecting its rich gardening history, from colourful massed tulip displays to historical botanic gardens, large estate gardens and beautiful tree-lined canals. In the 21st century, the 'Dutch Wave' of meadow-style gardens with flowering perennials and grasses refined by Piet Oudolf have influenced garden designers around the world.

The Dutch horticulture industry has also become a vital world hub with its advanced plant breeding techniques, innovative growing and massive plant auction houses.

"I love The Netherlands because it’s a small country with a big influence on the gardening world. Whether it’s tulips, prairie grasses, or meadow perennials, the Dutch use their incredibly fertile green thumbs to enrich gardens everywhere. Visiting Dutch gardens makes any plant lover want to head for the closest nursery."

- Carolyn Mullet
Carex Tours LLC

Garden Travel Guide to the Netherlands

 

written by Chantelle Leenstra, Garden Atelier

 

The Netherlands – getting there and around

The Netherlands has five international airports – Schiphol in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Groningen (Eelde), Rotterdam/The Hague, and Maastricht Aachen. Long haul flights arrive at Schiphol. Amsterdam is just under 8 hours flying time from New York, 11 hours from Los Angeles, 21 hours from Sydney and a quick one hour hop from London.

Once you’re in the Netherlands, the easiest way to travel around is by train, with access to smaller towns possible with an extensive bus system. In larger cities, there are tram networks. While public transport in The Netherlands is clean, well signed and highly efficient, and the small size of The Netherlands makes it very manageable for garden visiting. Amsterdam to Rotterdam is 40mins, and even from the furthest city in the north – Groningen to the furthest in the south – Maastricht is only just over 4 hours. These days 99% of Dutch people speak excellent English, and only in the tiniest country towns one might still find some older Dutch people who don’t speak English, and may not even speak good Dutch, instead speaking Friesian, an official language (not dialect) developed along the coast of The Netherlands and Belgium through extensive trade with England which incorporates a lot of English words. So perhaps English will work for you if you can carry off a Friesian accent!

Where possible, getting around will be most pleasurable by cycling, and there is plenty of bike hire available in major cities. Cycling will also make adventures through cobbled old towns, tiny dorpen (villages), cultivated fields, glorious wild summer meadows and alongside canals in the countryside possible. Though The Netherlands is pretty much flat, remember that riding into the wind can a different experience to riding with the wind. In areas one can still stop to purchase some nice hard boeren kaas ‘farmers cheese’, an aged traditional speciality with more complexity and tangyness than its factory-made Gouda relative. Picking and eating strawberries (small, super-fragrant ones) on the farm with luscious thick cream is another summer delight. A list of Friesian farms where it’s possible to buy apples, berries, cherries, dairy and meat products and more is listed by town name starting with Bakkeveen here , and other provinces can be selected under the heading ‘Kies een provincie’.

If considering taking a bike onto Dutch trains, be aware that policies for doing so vary between various train operators, so check train operator websites for more details. Also ensure you have a heavy duty lock, as stealing bicycles is its own industry in The Netherlands. Specially dedicated bike paths are well designed and extensive, and Dutch car drivers are typically extremely considerate of bike riders because, in their minds, you might be their grandma riding along.

In winter, ice skating on kilometres and kilometres of frozen lakes or natuurijs will give you a unique view of The Netherlands that not very many tourists see, and endear you to all Dutch people you meet thereafter.

Other than skating, another unique way for garden and nature lovers to get about is by boat, and there are multiple places across The Netherlands where boat hire is possible. Viewing private gardens and wetlands by boat is a real pleasure, and smaller boats will enable travel through quaint neighbourhood canals.

Don’t miss out on the cakes at bakeries or cafes associated with gardens – particularly in the countryside, where baking can often be absolutely top notch, although incongruously if you ask for cream it will often be from an aerosol can.

 

The Netherlands, Holland or Low Countries? And What’s Dutch?

The people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands call their country Nederland, which translates as ‘Low Countries’ in English, which originally also included Belgium and Flanders and was descriptive of the low, flat topography where much of the region is barely above sea level. North and South Holland are provinces within the Netherlands, and the offical language of the Netherlands is Dutch, although Frisian is also spoken. The word Dutch has  a similar derivation to the German word Deutsch and means ‘the people’, as distinct from the elite.

 

Climate of the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a humid, maritime climate with milder winters and also cooler summers than much of Europe, especially in the south west. A rainfall of 830mm (33 inches) is fairly evenly distributed all year-round, although there is slightly more in summer from heavier rain and storms.

Winter days range from around freezing overnight to 5 or 6 degrees C during the day, and summer from 10-12C overnight to the low 20s, although very hot days even up to the high 30s (95F) are possible.

 

Topography and vegetation of the Netherlands

About half of the Netherlands is on reclaimed land below sea level and, even in the higher land of the eastern provinces, the elevation is only rises to about 50m above sea level. Much of the western provinces is crisscrossed by canals and man-made waterways and the land kept dry but continual pumping.

What natural vegetation still exists in the Netherlands is mainly associated with dunes, tidal flats and wetland communities and some heathland, as any native forests had been cleared for agriculture and towns by the end of the 19th century.

 

Dutch Garden History

The Dutch are true plantspeople and uniquely connected to the land by the way so much of the country has been reclaimed from the sea. Today the North Sea is held at bay by a series of incredibly well engineered dikes, dams and floodgates, but before these were built, inhabitants built their homes on artificial hills called terpen or wierden. It’s believed that between 500 BC and 700 AD inhabitants periodically lived in and abandoned the area as sea levels fluctuated, probably attracted to returning due to the fertile deposits of clay soil deposited by the sea in these alluvial plains which would have made growing food more productive than the peat and sandy soils further inland.

 

Clusius garden in Hortus Botanicus Leiden or Leiden Botanical Garden. Photo Xsandriel
Clusius garden in Hortus Botanicus Leiden or Leiden Botanical Garden. Photo Xsandriel

Way back in the 1600s, the Dutch were creating some of the earliest botanical gardens in the world for medicinal purposes. The modern Dutch word tuin can be connected with the Old English ‘tun’ (with a long vowel), meaning ‘town’ and the modern German word Zaun, meaning ‘fence’. The celtic word ‘dun’ seems also related, meaning ‘citadel’ or ‘fortified town’.

Dutch, English and French garden styles have pollinated one another for centuries. The development of the formal Baroque style was influenced by both contemporary French and Dutch styles of gardening back in the 1600s to 1700s, and the Dutch then reinterpreted this at Het Loo with a smaller scale and a more enclosed sensibility, including more water, trees in containers, exotics and flowers – especially bulbs such as tulips.

It was in this period that Mary of England really stoked the Dutch passion for all things exotic and new in plants, as her subjects watched her take advantage of Dutch colonialism to seek out and bring back to the Netherlands plants from far off places such as Sri Lanka and Barbados. This became such the fashion in the Dutch population that one’s social status was no longer marked by the possession of gardens grandly designed, but to ownership of rare plants.

Indeed, investment in horticulture in The Netherlands has been anything but modest at various points in history. The famous tulip craze of the early 1700s comes to mind, but this has been so even in more recent history too, with Julianapark built in the 1940s being a small but illuminating case in point. This medium-sized 4.7ha neighbourhood park in the sleepy country town of Bolsward was lavished with funds for the following: a head gardener living onsite with his family, two assistants, glasshouses for propagating plants from seed collected in the garden the previous year, bulb storage cellars, a pond housing goldfish for whom any ice that formed had to be broken lest they be suffocated, a rotunda where bands would periodically play, changing colourful borders of lilac, azaleas and tulips, fireworks on the Queen’s birthday, a handful of peacocks strutting around, two German Shepherd dogs to guard the garden, and a canal several metres wide which locals could skate on in winter. Not many countries could boast such extravagance in the realms of horticulture for the masses, especially a culture with a bit of a stigma for economic conservatism.

A 1951 postcard of Julianapark in Bolsward
A 1951 postcard of Julianapark in Bolsward

Julianapark today is sadly a very slim shadow of its former self, but echoes of that same kind of enthusiasm can be seen in the way contemporary Dutch culture relates to plants. People will happily purchase seasonal bulbs and other plants in beautiful small arrangements from the florist, which they will display on coffee and dining tables for several months before they are spent and need to be replaced. It is, indeed a kind of throw away horticulture culture, but a lusty and admirable one in that people are willing to continually spend money on these kind of temporary plant displays for the home.

In the early 20th century German plant breeders such as Karl Foerster (think outstanding, widely loved plants such as Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ and Rudbeckia sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’) started an ecological approach to gardening built on foundations created by earlier garden designers such as William Robinson, George Arends and Gertrude Jekyll, promoting the use of hardy wild-style perennials and grasses which could grow happily on poor soils. Dutch landscape architect Mien Ruys, a friend of Foerster, played a significant part in popularising the approach, and biologist Dr J P Thijsse pioneered the application of a modernist ‘form follows function’ approach using native flowers in parks such as Amsterdamse Bos. James van Sweden similarly took inspiration from this German-Dutch movement, creating the New American Garden style in the United States.

Other Dutch designers took things even further, giving rise to arguably the most famous Dutch garden designer of all time: Piet Oudolf, and the movement known as the ‘Dutch Wave’. The Piet Oudolf effect can be traced back to a 1996 horticultural symposium held in Arnhem with trips to the gardens of Oudolf, Henk Gerritsen and Ton ter Linden. These designers took a freer, more artistic approach to the strict ecological approach of the Germans, and evaluated plants not just for their flowers or foliage texture, but also for the way the plant changed in appearance over the season. In this way, it was suggested that cold climate gardens could be enjoyed through their so-called ‘decline’ in autumn and winter by retaining foliage rather than cutting it down to the ground, leading to many enchanting images of frosted seedheads and red berries on whitened, misty winter mornings. In doing so, they struck a chord with garden lovers across the world at a time when allied concepts around sustainability and green living were gaining traction.

Australian garden designers had their own take on the Dutch Wave movement, aided by plant breeders releasing all kinds of tough hardy Australian native grasses to the market. British gardeners jumped in with fervour, and masterpieces of garden design and ‘plantistry’ such as Le Jardin Plume in France would not exist without the Dutch Wave. All this had a lot to do with private gardens, and it took a while for the style to be picked up in more public spaces such as the high profile High Line in New York or public gardens as far afield as Tokachi Milennium Forest on the northernmost island of Hokkaido in Japan.

More recently around the world there’s been a bit of a revolt against the Dutch Wave and resurgence in love for the humble shrub for its ability to provide enduring structure and volume. Designers such as British Andy Sturgeon claim that such grassy winter gardens look fantastic in photos or in the flesh when they are on a larger scale, and if there is the maintenance regime and budget for proper care. Apparently, as he says, ‘this new perennial stuff also looks pretty rubbish in the depths of winter’, and it has been noted that designing well with grasses is considerably challenging for those who don’t have the magic touch like Oudolf.

 

Dutch Garden Style

A simple bike ride through any Dutch city or town will demonstrate that the Dutch, on the whole, are certainly avid gardeners. As a population, the Dutch do seem to take great pride in their small gardens, making the most of the tight spaces available under what’s become considerable population pressure today. Access to light in such small gardens is apparently quite a challenge and a design driver.

The Dutch use their home gardens a lot in spring, summer and autumn/fall as a place to enjoy lunch or coffee at table with visitors who are sure to pour praise on something like a new cultivar of exquisite pink clematis pouring its profusion of blossoms down the side of the table. In these small residential gardens, everything is viewed close-up, and so variegations or crenulate leaf margins really stand out and delight. Large flowers seem like luxurious giants, and their loving carers feel, for a few weeks at least, like skilled horticultural gods.

The Netherlands is a watery country with all its canals, waterways and love of sailing, and that can often be reflected in its gardens. Even some of the smallest private gardens can create some very interesting meditations on the beauty of living close to water. We’re not talking a dinky water feature in the corner, we’re talking cantilevered rooms hovering above waterbodies that fill an entire 5 x 10m ‘garden’, delightful rows of quaint back gardens facing one another across small canals without fencing to the water, or enlarging windows so that all the cheerful boaty goings-on of an Amsterdam canal in summertime can be brought vicariously into one’s living room. So many public parks have ponds, and spring bulbs erupting along their banks, as well as along canals and in woodlands. Even atop the bolwerken or fortifications of old towns such as Dokkum and around its old windmill the gardens are a sight to behold on foot or bike.

 

Keukenhof The Netherlands
Keukenhof The Netherlands

Tulips are a bit of a mainstay of Dutch gardens, necessitated by the significance of tulips to Dutch national identity. A trip to the Keukenhof to see its mass displays of vividly coloured, almost plastic-looking tulpen (tulips) during one’s first trip to the Netherlands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that can be both equally enjoyed and endured, as one bold colour after another unrelentingly competes for your attention. Hybrid tulips didn’t start off looking so bold – fabulous little species tulips come from the mountainsides of countries like Afghanistan, but with all their horticultural prowess, the Dutch bred them into the super bright little celebrations of spring that we know and love today.

Now Dutch people are certainly avid gardeners, but for their impressive dominance in the European horticultural industry, fairly few Dutch gardens and garden designers are really well known internationally. Somewhat perplexingly, that seems to stem from the Dutch love of plants – the Dutch can be crazy about plants, but are a little less focused on design. But we forget this when we see some Dutch gardens because they’re just so damned neat and tidy, and there might be something more in that.

Indeed, the Dutch idea of netjes or neatness can be perplexing to foreigners, for the significance and repetitive use of the word, as well as the way it can be readily applied to both physical space as well as human behaviour. Someone who behaves out of the norm may be told to behave more netjes, and there seems to be something in Dutch culture that overly encourages belonging, being part of society and not sticking out, and messaging like this as well as the prevalence of Calvinism may have affected the creative output of its garden design culture. John Dixon Hunt mentions the ‘traditional Dutch fussiness and compartmentalisation’ in his book The Dutch Garden in the Seventeenth Century.

 

Amsterdam private garden Photo na4evjpg
Amsterdam private garden Photo na4evjpg

 

It’s true that 80% of ethnic Dutch people no longer attend church, but Calvinism has still very much been absorbed into Dutch culture, evidenced by prevalent values eschewing both extravagant living and demonstrations of extreme emotion as well as deeply embedded egalitarianism. Therefore even the grandest Dutch gardens since the 1600’s have more of an air of the everyday man about them than their English or French counterparts, with their more modest scale, sense of enclosure and profound enjoyment in the beauty of each individual plant. It’s interesting that in the hands of the Dutch, such admirable humanist virtues have generally created gardens that lack the innovation and daring of the Brits, and the conceptual artistry and grace of the French.

 

Dutch horticulture

Despite its small size as a country the Netherlands is a powerhouse in international horticulture, for both food production and in ornamental horticulture. Plant breeding, propagation, growing, horticultural technological innovation and international plant and cut flower distribution are major contributors to the national economy.

The Netherlands is a world hub for both plant breeding and horticultural distribution and marketing, with supply chains bringing in flowers and plants from Europe, Africa and Central America and sending them quickly and efficiently around the world. About half of the world’s flowers and plants pass through the huge auction houses at Aalsmeer and it’s claimed that 70% of the world’s vegetables and 40% of its ornamental plants carry Dutch bred genetics.

 

 

Best gardens to visit in the Netherlands

 

Best gardens to visit in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht & Surrounds
Gardens to visit in Aalsmeer

Historische Tuin Aalsmeer – a garden aiming to display a history of the horticulture of the local area with roses, pears and more.

Royal FloraHolland, Aalsmeer – largest trading centre for flowers and plants in the world. Visitor centre, auctions can be viewed weekday mornings.

 

Gardens to visit in Amsterdam

•   Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus – a garden founded in 1682 to supply the city’s doctors with medicinal herbs. Includes seed houses and glass houses, and a collection of plants in the Cycadae family, one plant being nearly 400 years old.
•   Amsterdamse Bos – a large forest park created on an area of land reclaimed from the sea, and the first major project in which an ecological approach was used, with native plants assisting in the process of land reclamation as well as in a flower gardens.
•   Borneo Shipwright’s Street – a street precinct with courtyards and roof gardens designed by landscape architect Adriaan Geuze of firm West 8, where residents were free to design their waterfront homes.
•   Vondelpark – Amsterdam’s most popular city park featuring seasonal flower displays, fountains and waterways, plenty of space for picnics, and rollerblade hire. Local groups use the space for everything from laughing meditation to political meet-ups.
•   Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek (West Gas Factory Culture Park) – Famous post industrial park designed by renowned international landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson. Contains a square, play pond, brook, sloping grass hill and around 20 restored industrial monuments.
•   Sloterdijkermeer – a group of 274 allotment gardens near Westerpark – a garden paradise of secret allotment gardens only 10 minutes from the city center. Cycling and pedestrians can walk past the gardens anytime; gardens are open to the public occasionally in summer. More at sloterdijkermeer.nl/

 

Gardens to visit in AM Lisse

•   Keukenhof – Arguably the most famous garden in The Netherlands for its showy bulb display. Open only two months per year, this garden attracts high visitor numbers.

 

Gardens to visit in Amstelveen

Jac P Thijsse Park – a ‘Heempark’ or home park of historical and design significance because of its pioneering use of wild Dutch flowers, as well as being connected with the beginnings of functionalist modernism.

Gardens to visit in Bloemendaal

Thijsse Hof – areas of water, woodland, heath, wildflowers and cereals located on the edge of coastal dunes and wetland. This garden was given to pioneer plant ecologist Thijsse Hof as a birthday present in 1925, and used by him as an instructional garden. Over 900 highschool children visit Hof’s garden every season for ecology lessons.

Gardens to visit in Leiden

Leiden Botanical Garden – part of the University of Leiden, this small garden was one of Europe’s very first botanic gardens. Includes a historical reconstruction of the very first Leiden botanical garden which was for medicinal purposes in the 16th century, and a systematic garden named after the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.

Gardens to visit in Loenen aan de Vecht

Terra Nova – wood and water gardens on fingers of land that meet with the Loosdrechtse waterway.

Gardens to visit in Loosdrecht

Kasteel Museum Sypesteyn – early twentieth century castle-style mansion and garden created in the style of the 1600’s. The central garden is on an island, and there is also an orchard and small topiary garden.

Gardens to visit in Neuberg

Neuberg – Huis ter Niewburg – parklands where the Treaty of Ryswick was negotiated in 1697.

Gardens to visit in Rotterdam

Arboretum Trompenburg – 12 acres of well-labelled trees including oaks, rhododendrons, conifers and hostas.
Roofpark Vierhavenstrip – park designed by Buro Sant en Co with an interesting folded, zigzag design including a step cascade.

Gardens to visit in Utrecht

Domkerk Utrecht Cathedral – a post-renaissance parterre garden inside a cathedral.
Kasteel De Haar – gardens rebuilt after 1895 around a medieval castle. Includes groves, kitchen gardens, rose garden, roman garden, bridges, aviaries, water gardens, avenues and romantic vistas. A French layout garden was designed closest to the house, with a romantic English park at the outskirts that has now been converted into a gold course.

Gardens to visit in Vensen

Beeckestijn – small baroque garden created in early 1700’s. Includes formal beds, a central axis and serpentine park.

 

Best gardens to visit in Middle & Eastern Netherlands
Gardens to visit in Ambt Delden

Twickel – castle garden of mixed style including Renaissance and baroque, as well as a serpentine park, orangery, and an early 20th century rock garden inspired by Gertrude Jekyll. Gardens open April-October.

Gardens to visit in Amerongen

Kasteel Amerongen – late 17th century moated castle with walled gardens, a rose garden, bridges and clipped box.

Gardens to visit in Angerlo

Huis Bingerden – a garden of topiary hedges developed in the seventeenth century in the ‘Stijve Tuintje’ – literally ‘stiff garden’ (or formal garden) style, situated within an old fortified farm dating back to the year 970.

Gardens to visit in Apeldoorn

Het Loo – one of the most famous gardens of The Netherlands, this baroque Dutch garden is known by some as ‘Dutch Versailles’. A 1970’s restoration, it was created as a summer residence or buitenplaats for the royal Dutch military and diplomatic hero William III of Orange and his wife Mary II of England, who defended The Netherlands against France and Roman Catholicism before going on to hold the English throne.

Gardens to visit in Appeltern

De Tuinen van Appeltern – 23 hectare park featured a changing exhibition of garden design with over 200 model gardens including the works of well known Dutch garden designers, landscape architects and authors.

Gardens to visit in Arcen

Kasteeltuinen Arcen – formal geometric garden around a castle accomodating garden exhibition grounds and model gardens, glasshouses and tropical plants. A serpentine park exists on the fringes of the estate.

Gardens to visit in Arnhem

Museum Kruidentuin – herb garden, farm garden, monastery garden and box clock in this Dutch open air museum.

Gardens to visit in Borne

Jan Boomkamp Gardens – a nursery and garden centre with 45 demonstrations including a range of statuary.

Gardens to visit in Demen

De Tuinen in Demen – colour themed gardens with over 800 roses, Hemerocallis, perennials, grasses, bulbs, annuals and vegetables, with a café on site.

Gardens to visit in De Steeg

Middachten Tuinen – a moated house and garden with a formal layout, begun in the 1600’s and remodelled in the 19th century.

Gardens to visit in Diepenheim (OV)

Kasteel Warmelo – English and French style gardens re-created in the 1920s by Baroness Creutz and Hugo Poortman around the castle of Warmelo.

Gardens to visit in Enschede

Although it’s a public landscape rather than a garden, Roombeek The Brook is a wonderful urban precinct featuring a long artificial rippled waterway covered with angular stepping stones and surrounded by mature trees.

Gardens to visit in Gees

Dehullu Beeldentuin – a sculpture park with lawns, a lake and planting.

Gardens to visit in Hummelo

Kwekerij Piet Oudolf – the private garden of pioneering Dutch gardener Piet Oudolf who transformed garden fashion at the beginning of the 21st Century with his love of grasses and perennials for texture and colour in all four seasons. Open in summer.

Gardens to visit in Laag Keppel

De Warande – a forest garden made by owners with an interest in art history and landscape architecture. Well composed planting merges subtly into forest, and the garden is arranged around a swimming pond.

Gardens to visit in Markelo

Erve Odinc – a thatched home and country garden.

Kasteel Weldam – one of the best examples of a great nineteenth century formal garden in The Netherlands.

Gardens to visit in Millingen aan Rijn

De Millinger Theetuin – sculpture, planting and lagoons designed around the idea of creating a southern garden in a northern climate.

Gardens to visit in Nijenhuis

Kasteel Het Nijenhuis – a sculpture garden planted with blocks of yew, lime and floral bedding. The castle houses the art collection of Dirk Hannema.

Gardens to visit in Schuinesloot (near Slagharen)

Priona Tuinen – Using plants obtained from the nursery of Piet Oudolf, Henk Gerritsen and Anton Schlepers have created a garden in memory of the beautiful flower meadows of Central and Southern Europe. ‘Plants that can’t live without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides don’t belong in my garden’, Gerritsen has said.

Gardens to visit in Rozendaal

Kasteel Rosendael – Rozendaal – Fourteenth century castle with late seventeenth century garden including elements of an 1836 serpentine park. Encompasses a shooting lodge, gallery, grotto, gazebo and cascade. The extent of ornamentation and use of bright colour is unusual in northern gardens.

Gardens to visit in Brummen

Klein Knoevenoord – 1.5 hectares of colourful borders, terraces and ponds.

Gardens to visit in Dedemsvaart

Mien Ruys Tuinen – a garden comprised of multiple rooms made at different times in the life of famous landsacpe architect Mien Ruys.

Gardens to visit in Vorden

De Wiersse – garden surrounding a moated manor house, with a wild garden, rose garden, sunken garden and kitchen garden.

Gardens to visit in Loozen

Botanische Vijvertuin van Ada Hofman – aquatic botanic garden with 50 artificial ponds and 3 large natural ponds. Includes a large plant collection, a roof garden, a beach garden and a number of rock gardens.

Gardens to visit in Waageningen

Botanische Tuin Belmonte – Wageningen University’s botanic gardens.
Wageningen Botanical Garden – includes one of the emost extensive arboretums in The Netherlands.

 

Best gardens to visit in Groningen, Friesland & North
Gardens to visit in Leens

Borg Verhildersum – moated house with box parterre gardens and herbaceous plants.

Gardens to visit in Pieterburen

Domies Town Pieterburen – a vicar’s garden beside a fifteenth century church.

Gardens to visit in Uithuizen

Menkemaborg – garden restored in 1705 with a walled garden, trellis arches, a rose tunnel and a vegetable garden. Clipped box borders enclose flowering plants popular in the eigteenth century such as Iris, Peony and Aquilegia.

Gardens to visit in Gaasterland

A Region of famously beautiful woods, along with camp sites, bed and breakfasts, lakes, marinas and bicycle tracks. A favourite local holiday or day trip for Dutch people, the Rijsterbos woods being the most famous as it suddenly meets with Ijsselmeer Lake.

Gardens to visit in Groningen

Prinsenhof – Prinsentuin – a garden reconstructed from a birds eye view of the city drawn in 1635 with arbours and parterres.
Schuinesloot (near Slagharen)

Gardens to visit in Haren

Hortus Haren – a botanic garden, rose garden, rock garden, arboretum, rhododendron valley and recreation of a Ming dynasty Chinese garden.

Gardens to visit in Oenkerk

Stania State – nineteenth century garden designed in the English style with lakes, islands and a small grotto.

Gardens to visit in Slochteren

Fraeylemaborg – a fragment of late seventeeth century garden and a nineteenth century landscape park situated with a moated manor house.

 

Best gardens to visit in Eindhoven, Maastricht and the South-East
Gardens to visit in Eindhoven

The 335km long ‘Starry Night’ bicycle path has a small phosphorescent chips that glows at night. It pays tribute to Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ painting.

Gardens to visit in Maastricht

Chateau Neercanne – four terraced gardens inspired by the baroque style, situated around the Chateau which is now a restaurant.
De Heerenhof Maastricht – formal structured garden enclosing cottage style plantings. Includes a cutting garden, orchard and small nursery.
Rotstuin Ber Slangen – rock garden begun in 1950 which Is 20 x 9 metres and 5 metres high.

Gardens to visit in Heerlen

Huys de Dohm – a house dating back to 1640 with a garden created in the Arts and Crafts Style with a series of more recent garden rooms. Rich planting and colour-co ordinated herbaceous borders.

Gardens to visit in Valkenburg (L.)
Kasteeltuin Oud-Valkenburg – botanical garden in the grounds of an old castle.

 

Best gardens to visit in South-West Netherlands
Gardens to visit in Domburg

De Kempenhof – garden made by Madeleine van bennekom.

Gardens to visit in Biervliet

Singelhof – private garden in the centre of town in Biervliet created by Marie-Louise and Thomas van Vooren.

 

Netherlands Garden Festivals

•   Keukenhof, AM Lisse – mid-March to mid-May
•   Secret Gardens, Rotterdam- mid June 2016
•   Tropical Butterfly Festival, Botanische Tuinen Utrecht – early June to mid September
•   Theme day ‘Plants as Medicine’, Botanische Tuinen Utrecht – mid June
•   Open Days Amsterdam Gardens 10am-5pm. 3 day pass valid for all participating gardens – mid June
•   Tuinen van west Fest 12-6pm. Free, – late September
•   Geheime tuinen van Sittard – first Saturday each month
•   De Tuinen van Appeltern – lots of events year-round in this garden plus the main Appeltern Garden Festival each June which features up to 10 new gardens each year, added to the already impressive display of 200 model gardens throughout the 23 hectare grounds.
•   40 Up Summer Festival in De Botanische Tuinen, Utrecht (music performances in the gardens) – late June
•   Tulip Festival. Holland’s longest tulip route, through the Noordoostpolder in Flevoland. Over 100km through nearly 2500 acres of colourful fields. Mid April to early May
•   Mloemencorso – 25 mile long flower parade from Noordwijk to Haarlem – late April
•   Flower parade on canals from Aalsmeer to Amsterdam – first week of September

•   National Tulip Day, Amsterdam (official start of tulip season, tulips fill Dam Square and are free for picking in the afternoon) – January 21

 

2022 Floriade, Almere

This international exhibition and garden festival held every 10 years in The Netherlands is organised by the Dutch Horticultural Council with the next Floriade in the Almere, a 30 minute drive east of Amsterdam. Spatial design of the event will be by renowned Dutch urban design practice MVRDV. Horticultural knowledge, products and new technologies will be displayed which focus on solutions to urgent global urbanisation issues affecting food, energy, water and health. The theme will be ‘Growing Green Cities

There are lots of activities in the years leading up to each Floriade. For example, university students in 2016 are working on ideas for how the city of Almere itself can be more sustainable and greener, and in March this year, the first biobankje ‘bioseat’ ever made was revealed on the streets of Almere. This is made of 100% organic waste materials including mowed dried plants from Almere public landscapes, cut grass and potato starch.

The municipality of Almere is looking for more ways to recycle materials into new products. For example, a problem with overgrown aquatic reeds has led to paper being made from Almere reed, as well as investigations into use of the same material for building materials and animal feed.

 

Amsterdam's secret gardens

Amsterdam’s secret: an enchanted forest and gardens

Paul Morgan

It is so completely entrancing; we have stumbled into an enchanted forest threaded with sunny meadows of daisy-strewn lawns, tiny cottages & bright gardens

Spray-painted-Echeveria-for-sale-at-Aalsmeer.-You-be-the-judge.

Real, or not? Dubai, Chelsea & Aalsmeer

Helen Young

Some things you see when you’re travelling are amusing or thought provoking, and it’s nice to have a blog like this to share them. I’m very lucky to lead a garden tour to Europe each year, taking in the Chelsea Flower Show and visiting great and small gardens in different countries. On a loose theme […]

The-magnificent-grassy-setting-of-the-Floriade-Theatre

Floriade 2012, Venlo, The Netherlands

Clare Bell

Having heard so much about Floriade in the Netherlands, I was keen to experience this world famous European garden event held every ten years and looking forward to two days soaking up the atmosphere in Venlo, a magnet for horticulturists and gardeners alike. Admittedly, I was anticipating a flower-fest of grand proportions with a strong eco […]