Growing Flowers on Land Reclaimed from the Sea
The Noordoostpolder in the central Netherlands is a mysterious land reclaimed from the sea and its mineral-rich soil makes for fabulous flowers. There are tulips of course (almost one billion marketable bulbs are grown here each year, making this one of the largest tulip areas in the Netherlands), stretching as far as the eye can see in a glorious patchwork of colour. But there are many beautiful domestic gardens too. Some of the makers of these gardens are generous enough to share their green spaces with others; these three are our favourites.
Pegasushof Garden began, like many in this region, as a farmer’s garden with an adjacent horse meadow. As the 20th century drew to a close, the owners, Jan and Elly Giesen, began to dream of a new garden; a place that would reflect the surrounding tulip fields and give them a sense of peace.
Inspired by the English gardens Elly had visited 30 years before, they worked with designers Mariëtte van Hees and Marcel Bellert, to construct terraces, ponds, and hedges of box and yew as a formal framework for a profusion plants and flowers. “There was no planting plan,” they explain. “We collected special and ‘normal’ plants then looked for a place to put them.”
Pegasushof offers treats all year round – Elly's favourite month is June, while high summer and autumn bring beautiful perennials and grasses - but springtime is joyous. Daffodils, fritillaria and tulips burst into life in the colour-themed borders: white tulip 'Triumphator' in the white border, tulip 'Queen of Night' in the purple border and Fritillaria raddeana in the yellow border. Glorious!
Created by owners Agnes and Mart Muijsers, in collaboration with Jikke Hamerpagt, Het Zwaluwhuis is all about borders.
The sunniest of these is planted with lavender and other sun-loving plants such as Oenothera lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies', Verbena bonariensis, Sedum 'Matrona', artichokes and the silver-green Mexican feather grass, Stipa tenuifolia. In spring, clusters of Allium 'Globemaster' combine with orange 'Daydream' tulips in an joyous splash of warming colour.
The four square borders on the lawn next to the house were inspired by the Dutch garden designer, Piet Oudolf. Bold drifts of flowering perennials, including Achillea ‘Terra Cotta’, Echinacea pallida, Veronicastrum, Sedums and various types of Salvias are mixed with grasses chosen as much for their structure as their colour.
The garden’s name, ‘Het Zwaluwhuis’, means ‘Swallow’s House’ – and it is! Each year, the swallows come to build their nests here, so keep your eyes open when you visit.
De Stekkentuin is a farmhouse garden where the colour, shape and structure of leaves play an important role. “After all,” explains the owner Wies Voesten, “a flower only blooms temporarily.” By making use of plants, shrubs, and trees with red, grey, and brightly coloured leaves, she has made a garden that holds its interest across all the seasons.
But this is the Noordoostpolder, so there are also plenty of spring flowering bulbs – more than 25,000 in fact planted in a single 55-meter-long border. 10,000 daffodils from more than 200 different species are mixed with snowdrops, Iris reticulata, Anemone blanda and many different varieties of Muscari.
There is also a second garden, dedicated to cuttings where other gardeners can buy the plants they have seen in the main garden straight from the fertile polder clay.
See the flowers & meet the people who grow them on our blooming holiday to Keukenhof 2024