Hortus Botanicus Leiden first part: the Winter Garden

This post is the first of two that will portray a visit to the Hortus Botanicus Leiden, a magnificent botanical garden, the oldest in The Netherlands, that was founded in 1590 with permission to be located next to the Academy buildings and with the goal of being of use for the medicine students.

The first prefect was Carolus Clusius, who in 1594 designed a small garden turned into a medicinal garden and who encouraged the collection of specimens brought from many parts of the world, including South-east Asia, Southern Europe, or South Africa.  The small garden below is a reconstruction from the original and has the name of his founder, the Clusius Garden. Clusius was a very prominent botanist and by all accounts, who started planting a collection of tulips in The Netherlands as soon as 1594.

The Hortus botanicus Leiden can be considered a living museum, compounded by different buildings with grounds in between, that were added along the centuries.  One of the latest one is the Winter Garden, in the background in the image below.  It is a glass and steel huge cubical box, with maximum transparency to receive all sun and light possible, that houses a collection of sub-tropical plants, Cycades and carnivorous plants, among others.

The interior of the Winter Garden is spectacular for the number of plants, the importance of the collection and the information for researchers that the collection offer.  Through its glass walls, there is a great view to the botanical garden, the Academy buildings and nearby areas of central Leiden.

But at the same time the impressive transparency and openness of the building, allows the visitor to enjoy the sub-tropical or tropical collections from the outside.

The interior division is based on the collection and the first floor is taken by the Cycades or palm ferns, plants that have millions of years of history, they can survive in the most extreme situations.  But man's actions have threaten them to almost the extinction, and this botanical garden (in collaboration with the New York Botanical Garden and the Thailand Nong Nooch Tropical Garden) has started a program of cultivation and preservation.

The spiral ladder from the ground floor take the visitor the upper floor, almost in the ceiling, which is completely taken by the display of temporary exhibits of part of the collection of carnivorous plants.  these plants need all the light they can get and a daily dose of insects.

Elevated walkways connect the different areas from where the views of the garden is grandiose, with hanging planters that are full with pots of specimens from different families of carnivorous plants in different stages of growing.

There are collections of varieties from the same family, like the Sarracenias, plants natives to Northern America,

sarracenia alata
sarracenia leucophylla

sarracenia leucophylla
sarracenia leucophylla
sarracenia with flower
Other beauties are the small Droseras, that can live in any continent, 

drosera capensis
drosera capensis
Or the family of the airy Roridulas native from South Africa,

rorudula gorgonia
roridula gorgonia
roridula dentata 
roridua dentata
 These are just some of the "jewels" that can be found inside the Winter Garden, and below is the view outside to the "Clusius Garden", which will be point to continue the visit and the start of the next post.

The Clusius Garden


Donna@GWGT said…
I am so enthralled with your images today. I love pitcher plants and that tiny one was so beautiful. What a really neat place.
I love these open glass structures! Your photos of the pitcher plants are spectacular! Amazing to see the detail of the water droplets on the plants! I have awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award. You can get your badge from my post. I really enjoy your photography and informational posts and of course reading about my former home! Enjoy your weekend.
Thank you so much for the tour. It is very interesting the way the plants are displayed. Maybe it is just my eyes, but I have a hard time reading the very light text against the dark background. It might be easier to read it you made it all bold.
What a fascinating place--it would definitely be on my list if I ever make a trip to The Netherlands. Exquisite shots of the Sarracenias and Roridulas! Wow!
lula said…
Donna, thank so much for your words!!
lula said…
Karin, Thank you for the award, I take it with pleasure!
lula said…
Carolyn, thank you for your comment, I wil try next post a darker grey for the text.
lula said…
Liz, for me it was an amazing visit, not only for the place but also for the possibility to shoot so many incredible living creatures.
lula said…
Donna, it was a fantastic vist, I want to go back later in spring and check the changes.
lula said…
Thank you Jean, and it is also a very interesting research center.