Called one of the most influential garden designers of the past century, Mien Ruys paved the for the modern Dutch landscape design. With a background in perennials and architecture Mien, bridged the gap between the two mediums to create her style. She was not afraid to push the envelope of design and experimented with combination of different materials. The gardens reside at the site of her parents’ perennial nursery and over the course of her career expanded into collection of 30 experimental areas. The highlights of her designs include the use of space (woods, open grass, etc), adaptable perennials, water features and art in different balances. It was her use of perennials in clean and simplistic designs that set her apart from the contemporaries of her time, saying perennials made it possible to have an experience of nature in a garden.
I was very fortunate to tour this garden in July of 2012 with a group from the Perennial Plant Association (PPA)- certified plant geeks! Prior to visiting I had researched just enough to know what I was walking into. I tend not to look at too many pictures prior to touring a garden because I don’t want my visions to be skewed by what others think I should be looking. So with a fresh perspective I walking into this iconic garden. As with any Dutch garden the economy of space is well achieved. The different garden rooms are divide very delicately so the garden flow is not disrupted- from one room to the next you are gently guided through the garden constantly wondering what is around the next hedge or at the end of the gravel path. If I remember correctly I spent roughly 2 hours in the garden and that is more than enough time to stroll the different areas and contemplate the design elements. I will say I visited on a weekday so the garden traffic was quite lite so I was able to take all my photos without someone strolling into my shot. This garden was Mien’s proving ground or lab to experiment with different perennial combinations, to use new materials, or try a new technique. The ever-present use of sculpture in each area tied the running theme together of the important Mien had of art in the garden. There is no doubt Mien Ruys was one of the influential gardeners of her time. She melded all of her loves together to create a moment in garden design we still see presents today in public and private garden. This garden is a must visit if you love garden design as much as I do…..
Taxus hedging frames the mirror pool beautifully and the addition of the Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ creates a striking yet elegant contrast to the dark green evergreen.
The corten “bending over’ silhouettes added a bit of whimsy to the garden. A great interpretation of the kitschy garden ornament.
Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ massed in the forefront surround a trickling water feature
Here is a detail shot of the water featured in the above image, flanked by the foliage of Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’
Deschampsia cepitosa ‘Goldtau’ surround a corten sculpture.
- Anet Scholma, the director of Mien Ruys Landscape Gardening bureau in Amsterdam published a dinfinative book on Mien Ruys avaialbe via the Tuinen Mien Ruys bookstore via email here. I attempted to find a copy on Amazon with no luck.
- Women Garden Designers; 1900 to present. Kristina Taylor (April 2015). (This book does not release until April, 2015. With 10 pages dedicated to Mein Ruys, Rosemarie Weisse and Jinny Blom, its looks to be a book worth adding to your library.)
- Du Tuinen van Appeltern – These gardens are definate visit while in the area. I also visited in 2012 and will feature in an upcoming post.
- Vijvertuinen Ada Hofman – This is a water garden featuring 50 ponds within 30 gardens. During my visit, I did not particularly enjoy these gardens. I prefer designs that include ponds, fountains and pools as an element of the overall design. At Ada Hofman the water features are the primary element without the balance of plants, trees and negative space I prefer.
I am catching up with sharing the gardens I toured back in August during my trip to Holland and Belgium. First is the Heerenhof Garden or H House, located in the lush area of Maatricht, Holland. The gardens offer a fresh perspective on design and what can be done in a relatively small and narrow space. The space offers dramatic lines of an ultra-modern glass house and framework of a garden created by the home owners; a dancer and actor turned landscape architects. The gardens are divided into several linked rooms with different themes or in this case maybe scenes influenced by the couple’s theater background. The drama is further reinforced as you walk into the garden where you are greeted by the couple pair of white peacocks which freely roam the garden. The homeowners share an interest in modern art and the sculptures placed around the landscape create a strong presence of their aesthetic. As you wonder the garden and walk through the stacked rooms you are transported from a formal modern theme, to a mixed cottage feel, and back into a hedge topiary sitting garden. If you are in the area and looking for a place to stay the couple offers a chalet at the back of the garden you can rent for the night or two.
I love the contrasting shape of the glass sculpture with the foliage of the Chilean Rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria)
The vertical aspects of the garden a really add that extra element of beauty through form.
I mean come on, how cool is the corten giraffe….and flanked by the Upright Irish Yew (Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata)
The garden design in vastly green however the selective addition of the burgundy / board foliage of the
Red Abyssinian Bananna (Ensete ‘Maurelii’ adds a dramatic punch. Not-to-mention really helps the set-off the different shades of green.