This weekend is the Amsterdam Open Garden Weekend, and it’s a rare chance to get a look at the secret world of Amsterdam’s gardens. When you walk around Amsterdam as a tourist you see the front part of the house which is directly on the street, what you don’t see is the gardens at the back which are fully enclosed.
This year there are 29 gardens included on the agenda, and there is a free boat that follows a loop around most of the gardens.
“This is my favourite”, I said practically every time I entered a garden, and even now looking back it’s hard to pick a favourite. It was great to see a photo record of the progress of the garden at Prinsengracht 79. The site had been a sweatshop before being redeveloped as apartments, so when the garden came to be redeveloped in 1992 it was full of rubbish including zips, boots and old machinery. All of which would have been taken through the house in wheelbarrows and back out to the street to be removed. The garden is now mature, full of very pretty old fashioned plants which cleverly suit its rather dark aspect.
I love the garden at Herengracht 68, there is a large modern garden house, which is built as a sort of extra living space with large modern paintings and clever minimalist furnishings. I could fancy it as a library/study. I’m sure I’d write superbly in such an environment.
But after much reflection my favourite must be Keizergracht 175, (shown left) the narrow garden has a semiformal central element with box hedge forming the outline of a paisley pattern, with bright flowers planted in between. Looking down on it when it’s in full flower must be stunning. At the end of the garden is a small pond, with a paved area and an old-fashioned garden house. The play on the use of box hedge, and the colour appeals to me.
(This photo does not do it justice, it’s very difficult to photograph gardens well, the overwhelmingly dominant colour is green, but that’s not the sensation when you’re in the garden)