If I have a few hours to spare in Leiden, I visit Leiden’s Botanical Gardens: it’s an extraordinary botanical experience. The Hortus Botanicus Leiden (it’s official, fancy name) is the oldest botanical garden in The Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world.
These are my favourite areas of the garden.
World’s largest water lily
When you visit Leiden’s Botanical Gardens, make sure that you see the giant water lilies. Victoria amazonica produces the largest flower in the world and the leaves are big and strong enough to hold a small child.
The giant floating leaves measure up to three metres across and they are anchored by an underwater stalk of seven to eight metres. According to Hortus Leiden, the lily flowers every two weeks during the summer and the flower blooms for only two days.
Von Siebold Garden
The Von Siebold Memorial Garden is behind this red wall. This garden was created to honour Philipp Franz von Siebold, a German physician, botanist and traveler. He was known for his studies of Japanese flora and fauna. Between 1823 and 1829 he lived at the Dutch trading post in Deshima in Nagasaki, Japan.
- Von Siebold was instrumental in bringing plants (dry and living) from Asia to The Netherlands. This formed part of an exchange agreement between The Netherlands and Indonesia at the time.
- He introduced plants such as the Hortensia and Azalea to Europe. (Source: Leiden University)
- At least 10 of his original plants, including the white and blue Wisteria, still flower in the garden. (Source: Leiden University)
This is one of the newer glasshouses for plants such as cacti and palms. The first glass houses of the Hortus Botanicus were constructed around 1680. They housed foreign plants (probably those brought in by people such as von Siebold) as they couldn’t survive in the cold climate.
I have to single out this majestic Kastanjeboom (Chestnut tree). It has such a presence in the garden.
How to get there
Hortus Botanicus Leiden
Are you looking for more memorable outdoor experiences in The Netherlands? Near Amsterdam in Alphen aan den Rijn you can visit Avifauna, the fist dedicated bird park in the world. It is a paradise for anyone who loves birds and animals.
Like this post? Spread the word. 😀
Day trips from Leiden