The Gardens of Appeltern
by Derek Burch
I never visit the Netherlands
something new, or adding to my store of rich memories.
Plant Publicity Holland arranged
several trips last year for the group of which I was a part, one of them
to a site to which I am sure I will be drawn as long as I can drag my
poor old bones around gardens. This is the Gardens of Appeltern, a "garden
It is a self-avowed display garden for the products of the commercial
enterprises who support it. Nothing is for sale, but there are careful
records of the contributions that are made, and these are published each
year in a handsomely illustrated yearbook, which serves as an idea book
and a source list of contacts for designers.
plants and hard goods, are meticulously and tastefully labeled, but
the enormous value of the site, and its essentially unique characteristic,
is that the whole 13 ha (about 32 acres) is laid out in a changing
display of gardens of various sizes.
The gardens intertwine (picture
the way that a golf course winds back on itself as hole after hole follows
a clearly defined sequence), giving a succession of self-contained set
pieces, ranging from balcony plantings to town gardens large and small,
patios, seating areas, city and farmscapes.
||Water is everywhere,
as formal water gardens, as tiny cascades, as fountains: it is shown
to be a feature to adorn any site.
Last summer Appeltern featured
an invitational series of gardens designed by celebrated designers, landscape
architects and horticultural writers - an invaluable showcase for them,
and for the crowds wishing to compare their styles and vision in three
dimensions and through time rather than from a paper or electronic presentation.
garden is the brainchild of Ben van Ooijen, a residential garden designer,
who originally simply wanted to display his own work to potential
customers, finding it more effective to walk them through a completed
garden rather than trying to convey a concept in words or renderings.
It has developed into its present form that draws thousands of visitors
a week through the summer months, and has risen to the challenge of
serving their more everyday needs with a group of very pleasant restaurants
and snack bars, and well-placed stops along the way. A single path,
inclusive of everything that is on offer, is marked, but there are
opportunities to extend or shorten a visit to suit everyone's wishes.
Appeltern is deep in the countryside
about an hour and a half southeast of Utrecht. From the A2 about halfway
south to 's Hertogenbosch, you would take the A15 eastwards towards Njimegen.
A few kilometers after the town of Tiel there is a right turn across a
major bridge to Leeuwen, at which point you start to ask directions! The
gardens are enough of a local feature that most people can easily point
the way. (The question then becomes whether you can understand the directions!)
What are the high points? Hard
to pick anything in a garden that is not intended to have grand vistas
or a sweeping axis or a single "must see" feature.
|| Harder still,
when one after another of the small garden arrangements gives great
ideas for delightful combinations of plants, or of ways in which to
set a table and a couple of chairs into just the right spot for breakfast
or a quiet drink at the end of the day.
||A garden on
the roof, or a garden as roof, was a demonstration that will stay
But, after all, I was content to wallow in the unfolding succession of
garden gems along the path, and to respond to the obvious affection lavished
on the garden by its staff.
The address of the garden is: De Tuinen van Appeltern Walstraat
2a 6629 AD Appeltern
tel.: (0487) 54 17 32
fax: (0487) 54 15 39
(Click on the footprint graphic for a tour)
These pictures, together
with the fountain and the restaurant above, are part of the tour
available on the Appeltern website.
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