Monday, November 12, 2012

de Hortus Botanical Gardens, Amsterdam

Back in September hubby and I enjoyed a wonderful week in the city of Amsterdam, Holland. The city is probably best known for its canals, bike riding citizens and it's views on marijuana.
We spent half a day at the small but wonderful Hortus botanical garden just on the edge of the city. Created in 1638 it is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. It houses a Palm House, a Three-Climate Greenhouse, a small butterfly with cacti greenhouse, a wonderful organic restaurant under the trees at the Orangery, plus some lovely gardens. They claim that the Hortus houses more than 4,000 different species of plants, which is about 2% of all plant species growing on Earth. The Hortus specializes in Palms, Cyads, South African plants, carnivorous plants and are very proud of their herb garden the Hortus Medicus. The Hortus Medicus is a medicinal herb garden which was of vital importance in its time as it provided herbs to doctors and pharmacists of the 17th century.

Upon entering the gardens we first came across a large pond with waterlilies. There was even a beautiful bud emerging.

Here I am in the Semicircle. The Semicircle has an interesting idea behind it. I give you their words to explain; " The Semicircle portrays plant systematics: species that are closely related can be found growing near each other, while those that have little in common are grown far apart. This is the first and only systematic garden in The Netherlands in which the plants are categorized according to 'molecular systematics'. This kind of systematics is based on the similarities between genetic material."

Semicircle - photo from Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

And if you really want all the details:

The tree area had many many gorgeous trees, especially conifers. I give you one gnarly beauty and the Wollemi Pine. This pine died as you can see but they did have another in a greenhouse that looked healthy.

Dead Wollemi PIne

The Wollemi Pine is an ancient tree (290-200 million years ago) thought to be extinct but found in Australia in 1994. World wide conservation of this tree began in 2005. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton also houses a Wollemi Pine. It took many years for Australia to grow new seedlings in order to distribute them across the globe to other botanical gardens.

Below are two photos of the Palm House. The cool thing about this conservatory (besides the plants) was the stair and catwalk that allowed you to view the plants from a height.

From above

I did manage to find the hardy carnivorous plants in a small bog outside the Palm house, the rest were in the South Africa conservatory.


We moved into the Three Climate house, which very cool and very hot. These photos are primarily of the jungle in the hottest of the houses.

Notice the pink bud to my right. No idea what it is.

Pink bud
Bottlebrush ?

Very thorny tree. I never saw the top of it.

Tillandsia mallemontii

 We left the humid jungle behind with sweat was dripping off my forehead - not something a girl from Canada relishes. The South African house was dry and cool and a relief after that.

It was here we found the second Wollemi Pine. Doesn't it look nice? and alive? The first one had been grown outdoors and was killed by a frost. 

I don't know what this is but I love it. Like a yew with fushia-like flowers. Nice.

Last, a few photos from their butterfly house. The house also held cacti but I don't remember them and I certainly did not get any pictures of them. I was concentrating on capturing the few types of butterflies they had, but the darn things kept moving around.

Poor old tattered flutterby

Must be a lot of fighting going on. More torn wings.

That is all of my visit to the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam. It would be nice to visit again in late spring early summer to see more of the flowers. We did have a lovely lunch out doors by the Orangery. Organic salads with really interesting and flavourful flourishes. They also have a very nice gift shop too. If you would like more info on the gardens click here to get to their web site.


  1. your yew/fuchsia is an Erica species, but there are so many I don't know which one.

  2. A day in the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam with lunch by the Orangery sounds like a perfect sort of day to me! I like the picture of you that your husband took looking from above- you look very happy and who wouldn't be surrounded by such lush greenery.

  3. Great post Patty! Requesting permission to link for when I post about HBA.