mien ruys garden


These gardens in Dedemsvaart (eastern Netherlands) are a wonderful collection of 28 gardens designed from 1924 to the present. So many impressions from these gardens -from the use of diagonal lines and circles to plays on perspective- will remain with me in future design work. Here are a few examples;



woodland garden

shady woodland gardens with ball fountain

orange flowers, red barn

diagonal lines of decking

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dutch tea house

In the eastern part of the Netherlands I encountered many thatch-roof farms and haystacks. Here is an example of a Dutch garden house likely to be used as a tea house or garden shelter. It looks very small and cozy and is in scale with the smaller properties and homes in the Netherlands. I would love to place such a little house in the center of an herb or cutting garden.tea house

solid or mixed

So many bulbs ( I believe 120 million in the Keukenhof alone) make so many flowers. They are all beautiful specimen but the right combination of form, height and color can create an even more interesting effect. 


These beds have been planted with a single cultivar in each “grid”.
bulb beds


This is a mixed bulb bed providing different bloom times and more movement and change.mixed bulbs


This is planted in rows resembling the bulb fields in the Dutch landscape.bulb stripes

tulips galore

Lisse landscapeAfter a ten day journey criss-crossing through the Netherlands I’m completely convinced that this small nation (roughly the size of Connecticut) is the most garden conscious in the world. The smallest strips of available land are planned into spaces to display the wide varieties of plants and trees that grow in this temperate climate.

But the perfect time of year to see Holland’s most famous export is when the bulbs are in full bloom. The Keukenhof gardens in Lisse are open from April 1 until May 30th to display the wide varieties of bulbs cultivated in this region.  Many of the display beds are rather bright but dull with a single variety of tulip and I most enjoyed the mixed bulb displays. My favorite flower is still the deep purple, almost black tulip called “Queen of Night” but I discovered a newer cultivar called “Black Charm”. Perhaps you think me rather morbid but these colors are so fantastic mixed in with lighter shades of purple and red or contrasted with white. black charm tulip

dutch apples


As you read this I am exploring the Dutch gardens of Piet Oudolf and Mien Ruys, the Keukenhof and more. I can’t wait to share with you my images and impressions from this trip upon my return. Last time I visited my birth country we created this tribute to Andy Goldsworthy (not a Dutchman!) in my parents’ miniature orchard in the Hague.