Hondsrug garden

Haren, the Netherland

BOOM Landscape


The Hondsrug garden, just like the Hondsrug itself, is a landscape of people and nature

Fig.1 The Hondsrug is a seventy kilometre long sand ridge between the city of Groningen and Emmen. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Fig.2 The starting point for the construction was a model, on which each individual layer of ten centimeters was indicated. (Image: BOOM Landscape)
Fig.3 A study of old (aerial) photos of streams in this region was the source of inspiration for the course of the stream. (Image: Rick Mensink)
Fig.4 Nothing has been planted; the planting comes from the deposited soil layers or through the wind. (Image: Wietske Couperus)
Fig.5 The course of the path is based on a pattern of paths that shepherds left behind in the landscape. (Image: Rick Mensink)
Fig.6 On completion there was a bare ground back. (Beeld: Wietske Couperus)

The Hortus is located at the northernmost point of the Hondsrug UNESCO Geopark, a seventy kilometer long sand ridge between the city of Groningen and Emmen. The landscape of the Hondsrug was formed some 150,000 years ago. Glaciers brought land in and caused the height differences that we see in the landscape today.

The Hortus is a place where nature, culture and art come together and wants visitors to experience "how fascinating and unique the landscape is that was created almost 150,000 years ago". ( i ) In collaboration with Geopark De Hondsrug, the so-called Hondsrug garden was laid on the site of a former greenhouse, designed by BOOM Landscape. The agency was instructed to construct a garden that would "do something" with the special Hondsrug landscape.

The designers made a representation of the Hondsrug. They did not attempt to recreate the Hondsrug, but made the characteristic elements of the landscape the main ingredients of the garden. ( ii ) The construction of the elongated garden started in 2016 with the supply of the three most characteristic types of soil from the Hondsrug: boulder clay, cover sand and stream valley soil. The garden mimics how the the cultural landscape must have looked about a hundred years ago: the period before land consolidation and the use of fertilizer. The paths through the garden resemble the lines that flocks of sheep use through the landscape. Planting must emerge by itself, in order to make the flora a true reflection of the original Hondsrug landscape, the designers rely on the seeds that are in the soil that has been supplied and come in with the wind. Biologists and volunteers keep a close eye on whether the right plants are coming up and if they’re not being oppressed by weeds. They see the garden grow, and help shape it further by removing unwanted plants.

No glaciers, but bulldozers formed the Hondsrug garden. The stream and the paths are citations from the past - they have been copied from maps and scaled to the level of the garden. The starting point is to rely on the soil, the seeds and then time. A fully planted garden had produced a different picture. Because of what is in the soil, because of what comes up, because of the human hand that selects, an environment has been created that is the result of the cooperation between nature and man, just like the Hondsrug itself.

( i ) hortusharen.nl, consulted March 2018.
( ii ) https://boomlandscape.nl/work/hondsrugtuin-hortus-haren/, consulted March 2018.