Friday, February 17, 2017

Hortus Botanicus, Part I

The Amsterdam Botanical Garden, Hortus Botanicus, is one of the oldest in the world, established originally as a garden of medicinal plants for doctors and apothecaries in 1638.  It was started in the terrible years of the plague, when doctors were searching desperately for anything that could provide a cure.  I write this blog as a record of our travels in part, and I find I have enough pictures I want to include that this is going to take two days to cover.  We really enjoyed our visit.

It's no secret that we love gardens, and we've visited many on our travels.  This is the Gunnera, looking like giant 8 foot tall Rhubarb leaves.  I could stand underneath them and look up!

The giant Victoria lily pads were also a familiar friend, found in a number of botanical gardens, but the other lily pads here were what caught my eye, as it had been raining.

The surface of all these lily pads were decorated with drops, or even small lakes of water.  These leaves tend to have a depression in the centre, so that`s where the bigger `lakes`collect.

The core of this botanical garden is a systematic collection of plants by genus and family.  Many of the original plants were collected by the traders of the Dutch East Indies Company, sailing the world in search of commerce, so they accumulated a lot of unknown plants in the early years.

Those unusual plants included trees, and the garden now has quite a collection of large mature trees, even though it`s on a small crowded location in downtown Amsterdam.  This is the largest Gingko tree we`ve ever seen.

I`m always intrigued by finding plants that are common here in North America growing in European gardens.  This is the common Royal Fern which I see here at home.

And this is Flowering Dogwood, one of the most beautiful small trees over eastern North America.  It doesn`t grow as far north as we live, but it sparkles in the understory of the Great Smoky Mountains in April.

For the first time we visited a small butterfly house.  though the butterflies were unfamiliar, it was a remarkable experience having them flying around your head.


Meanwhile, we`re facing one of those nasty warm spells over the coming week.  I can`t imagine why people think a warm week at this time of year here in the snowbelt is a good thing!  It just means that the temperature starts melting the snow during the day, but every night it turns back to ice.  Our driveway becomes a skating rink, and the roads become unsafe for walking.  I finally bought myself a new pair of yaktrax so I can keep walking regardless.  But I`d far rather have snow.


  1. Oh, my that Gunnera! I had never heard of it...cannot imagine it. But you know what the close-up photo reminds me of? Looking on Google earth at a subdivision. LOL White dogwoods grow wild here...and always loved where I grew up in East Tennessee, looking at the dogwoods blooming on the mountains.

  2. We have some Gunnera plants here, but nowhere near as tall, the leaves on those thick stems seem to droop a bit. Dogwood, a real beauty. Take care on the skating rink....oops, footpath!!!

  3. The freeze and thaw cycles are more numerous here this year, FG. It appears to be the new norm. This too will pass. Be careful this coming week.

  4. Love the pictures, especially those pretty lily pads and butterflies. I think yaktrax are wonderful to help keep me upright in the ice, too. :-)

  5. What a great area an love your amazing photos.

  6. What a beautiful place!

    The only dogwood I know of here is one that's in the zen garden at the Museum of History, but that one would have been brought in specially. It seems to do okay through our winters.

  7. Impressive gardens. If you ever get to New York City (best wait four years)a trip to the New York Botanical Garden would be well worthwhile.

  8. Amazing close ups. Love those drops of water.

  9. Beautiful pics of the lily pads and butterflies. We have flowering dogwoods here in Oregon too.

  10. Splendid photos. It was late March when we visited Amsterdam. And raining over half the time. It was still wonderful to see all the beauty of the city.