Saturday, 14 February 2009

Saturday Photo: The Clusius Garden at Leiden

This week it's not a green house in a botanical garden that's featured, but the charming reproduction of one of the first modern botanical gardens, the Clusius Garden in the Hortus Botanicus at the University of Leiden in Holland.

Carolus Clusius was engaged in 1590 by the directors of the then-new university to set up a garden where plants could be studied in a systematic fashion. At the time only two others existed, in Padua and Pisa in Italy. The garden eventually outgrew its walls, as the Hortus became a well-respected centre for botanical study. But in 1931 the original garden was reconstructed following Clusius's plans. It was renovated in the 1990s for its 400th anniversary, and now is a true delight to visit.

We went there when we visited Elin when she was studying at the Royal Conservatory at The Hague, and I was researching Recreating Eden: A Natural History of Botanical Gardens. At the time I hadn't intended to include the garden in the book, but seeing it convinced me any book about the history of botanical gardens wouldn't be complete without a chapter on it. The memories of the time we spent there remain very fresh--and extremely pleasant.

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