Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A remarkable rock garden in the Netherlands

Jan Luebbers
 It's hard to believe that it's over ten years since I took these pictures of a spectacular garden in the Netherlands. I was invited to speak at a rock garden conference there, and tours to private gardens (and nurseries) were part of the event. The gardens were among the best I've seen anywhere, and what nurseries on Earth can begin to compare with the Dutch bulb growing fields? I shall perhaps revisit those as well, but this garden really begs to be shared. I have not been in touch with Jan since my visit (which I regret), but I don't think I've seen a more ambitious, nor more sophisticated garden anywhere--full of treasures and surprises. And his succulent greenhouse was perfection too. I shall not drone on with commentary--the garden speaks for itself!

I know there will be sensitive sorts who object to the shaping of the shrubs and trees. The blend of topiary with naturalistic design is utterly unique here, and that may be a good thing. But do look beyond that if it's not your cup of tea to the way he combines foliage textures and the remarkable hardscape elements, and above all else the fantastic counterpoint of vista and vignette: I've never seen it done better.

The Aeonium tabuliforme is not hardy if you're wondering: he plants it out every year!

I suggest you linger a bit on this cliff face: in a suburban lot, mind you! this has to be the most exquisite garden cliff I've seen in any garden (with the possible exception of Harry Jan's wall cliffs--which are really something else)..

I believe he told me the Aethionema you see here came from Crete (my parent's birthplace)--I've yearned for it every since. I must get his address and beg a little seed! He's obviously got plenty to spare. 

I love the way he's planted rock gardens around his greenhouse...

I don't think I've ever seen a more perfect greenhouse! It's unimaginable what he's fit in here!

It's a crafty garden host who coaxes all his echeverias to bloom in such a perfect sinuous pattern just in time for an international conference tour visit.

The South African corner...what a wonderful way to grow mesembs!

And the other side of the greenhouse is just as perfect.

The best spread of Helichrysum sessiloides I've seen outside of South Africa!
Acantholimons galore: I wonder how they bloom in the summer?

Sedum palmeri
 This Mexican sedum has proved quite hardy in Maritime climates--including the East coast up to North Carolina and the entire Left coast of the US and Canada. I have killed several clones seeing if we couldn't find a spot to overwinter it (because of our dry falls, many Zone 7 plants can be induced to survive). No luck thus far, though this plant tempts me to try again!

 Like all the best plantsmen, he grows lots of plants from seed (only way to get many)

On and on it goes...

 It's not out of focus really: I'm misty eyed with jealousy.

There's the master--in action! You can see why he's so slender--keeping on top of a garden of this scope!

More of that dang Aethionema!

And here is the hardy cactus corner on a south facing wall with an overhang. the spineless Opuntioid is South American was mystery to me: I posted its picture on the "Opuntiad" group of Facebook and three of the people on that immediately identified it as Austrocylindropuntia verschaffeltii! And people criticize Social Media!

I've restrained myself (both with pix and commentary--believe it or not).  This is just a taste of one of many gardens, and then there was the fantastic botanic garden at Utrecht. And then there are the bulb fields. I am deeply grateful to the Netherlands rock garden club for this unforgettable visit: I fell in love with Holland: it really is the world capital of Flowers!


  1. Dumbfounded, flabbergasted, utterly and completely stunned, discumknockerated, etc, etc, … magnificent, magnificent, magnificent.

    1. I'm so relieved you liked, it: especially after my terrible gaffe. YOU are surely the "most exquisite garden cliff" and not Luebber's!

    2. Aw shucks, PK … I didn't think you cared! Every new and exquisite garden that you post here both inspires and dissuades in equal measures. How can we mere mortals ever measure up to such perfection, to such diversity, to such consummate quality?
      All we can do is give thanks that such horticultural masters glide amongst us!

  2. Holy $#@! I'm going to be studying these pics for awhile. That greenhouse....!

  3. The greenhouse alone is amazing. Is his property surrounded by brick walls and that's how he creates his "cliffs"?

    1. He just built his own walls out of concrete pavingstones. Stones just piled up, no cement or something like that. A marvellous garden indeed!

  4. Stunning series of pictures Panayoti! Jan has done an unbelievable job there, that's for sure. And all that meticulous pruning......
    I remember your talk at that conference: still can recall your pictures of Oxytropis near Boulder.....

  5. Just...hard to describe adequately the beauty of this garden. What is the plant over which you were misty eyed with jealousy??? Thanks for sharing this great adventure.

    1. It's an Erythronium of some kind, but you may already have figured that much out. For the species, we await PK's answer.

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