“There is so much beautiful greenery in Amsterdam. I’ve grown up riding the scooter in the Vondelpark. Now the park is my back garden, and I come there thirty times a week.” Saskia Albrecht is a garden developer who looks at the city from a green perspective. From parks -- “also beautiful and still relatively undiscovered is the well-designed Erasmuspark, filled with nice clean lines, and of course, a cafe,” -- to museum gardens, especially backyards and public parks.
Every year, Albrecht organises the Open Garden Days with the Museum van Loon. You will find Amsterdam’s prettiest islands of greenery hidden away behind houses, streets and buildings. By opening up the gardens, you reinforce the importance of preserving them.” Every garden is unique. Some gardens, such as Amnesty International, are very well designed, while others are special because of the care that goes into them. This year (2021), the Open Garden days are cancelled, but luckily many gardens remain open. Some might be hidden just as well as the backyards on the canal belt, but Albrecht is happy to guide you through the most beautiful and unique public gardens.
“There isn’t much green in Zuidas, but there’s a surprise waiting behind the buildings here.” The garden of the circular Circl pavilion is the initiative of the neighbours and ABN Amro workers, but it’s open for visitors.
Gustav Mahlerplein 18, Zuidas
2. Botanical Garden Zuidas
“A smaller version of Hortus Botanicus that is hidden away from sight. You can buy succulents and get a cup of tea for next to nothing.” The Botanical Garden is filled with tropical plants such as great palms, cacti and bonsai trees.
Van der Boechorststraat 8 (closed during corona, check the website)
3. Kruidentuin (Herb garden) Artsenijhof Beatrixpark
“It was founded in 1972 and filled with hundreds of medicinal plants. The many different herbs with their applications signed on the nameplates are fascinating.” The garden had overgrown in the ’90s until the Association got involved. Now it is maintained by a large group of volunteers.
Boerenweteringpad 1077, Beatrixpark
4. Rododendronvallei Amstelpark
Dozens of rhododendrons are in full bloom until late May and sometimes even June. It’s a colourful spectacle that is sure to make you happy.
Arent Janszoon Ernststraat 1
5. Bloementuin Darwinplantsoen
“You’ll find this lovely garden in a completely unexpected spot.” The Darwinplantsoen opened in 1963 as a creation for everyone in the neighbourhood with a rose garden for the elderly and a botanical garden for plant fans.
6. Botanische tuinen in Park Frankendael
A 17th-century style garden sits behind Merkelbach, the stately country residence in Frankendael. "Completely symmetrical, with gravel and hedges and benches perfect for a break."
You wouldn’t be able to tell when standing on the Weesperstraat that a hidden oasis of greenery awaits on the other side. There’s enough space to lounge on the grass or the Dignita restaurant terrace. "A green artery runs through the city from Hoftuin to the Hortus and Wertheim Park. Even the tram tracks are green with grass between the rails."
Nieuwe Herengracht 18a
8. De tuin van Jan
This courtyard garden used to be a school square; now the old school building is filled with businesses. The space has been transformed into a Garden of Paradise. "It’s such a rewarding initiative set up and maintained by the local residents."
Jan Maijenstraat 17 (alleen op zondag open)
9. Tuinen van West
“It’s no garden in the traditional sense of the word, but totally worth the visit.” In 2007, the four polders around Amsterdam were renamed Gardens of West. The place is big enough for cycling and walking, and you can pick your own fruit in the orchard.
Pieter Moeskopspad 20
Don’t forget the museums with their stunning gardens. The gardens of Rijksmuseum, Museum van Loon, Museum of the Canals and Huis Marseille are actual art objects. You can look through the gates from the Amstelstraat and into the Willet-Holthuysen gardens even when the museum is closed.
Saskia Albrecht is a garden developer who has been involved in Open Garden Days for 15 years. She is also the initiator of the Tulip Festival. "I work a lot for private individuals, and I am also involved in gardens in the historic heart of Amsterdam, where preservation is vital. For Museum Willet-Holthuysen, for example, I do the bulb planting every year, but in the existing design from 1974. The biggest compliment is that it looks like the garden has always existed in that shape."
Barbara van den Berg illustrates the map. Find her work at: barbara-illustratie.nl.