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Hortus Botanicus of Leiden University

Listed under Gardens in The Netherlands.

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Here is an academic garden from the time of the Renaissance and the foundation for the Dutch bulb industry.

Founded in 1587, the Hortus Academicus was amongst the earliest botanical gardens in Europe. Carolus Clusius, a Flemish doctor and botanist also known as Charles de L'Ecluse, planned Europe's earliest botanic garden here. As Prefect of the Royal Medicinal Garden in Prague, he started a collection of tulips from seed. He subsequently became founder, designer and first Prefect of the Botanic Garden here and over six hundred bulbs were planted at Leiden by 1593. He was appointed professor in 1594. His 16th century garden, the Hortus Clusius has been restored to the original plan with paths of crushed white shells.

The Japanese Von Siebold Memorial Garden commemorates the garden's connection with Von Siebold who was a doctor working in Japan who sent back most of his plant collection to Leiden in 1823. His name is familiar from plants such as clematis and Hosta sieboldii. He made many other introductions including wisteria, tiarella and epimediums.

The Orangery here was designed by the Protestant French designer Daniel Marot.

In this town-garden plant museum much of the planting is in very large containers and everything is well labelled. It contains a number of interesting old trees dating from the 17th century including semi-tender trees in tubs which are moved into the Orangery in winter.

The greenhouses have splendid collections of plants including Cycads and a collection of many different passion flowers. In a rose garden laid out in the 1930s a central sundial is surrounded by those species from which all cultivars are descended.

Situated off a typical quiet Dutch canal-side street, the garden today is a centre of serious botanical studies. www.sisley.co.uk

Written by  Tony Sissons.

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