The Slatuinen Natural Garden must be the best kept secret of Amsterdam West. I was so surprised to discover this beautiful lush space hidden between apartment buildings. Here, in the middle of the city, is a secret garden where nature has taken its own course.
This small, hidden paradise is on Slatuinenweg in De Baarsjes neighbourhood (there’s more information on how to get there at the end of this post). I discovered it completely by chance while searching for another address on Google Maps.
What makes it a natural garden?
Unlike French gardens where plants are neatly trimmed, the vegetation at Slatuinen is left to grow with as little human intervention as possible. The garden is home to numerous flowers, trees, plants, birds, frogs and small mammals.
Although the garden is mostly left undisturbed, the Slatuinen Association keeps records of what is in it. A photographer documents changes in the garden by taking photos four times a year from fixed positions to show the area’s natural development.
The story behind the Slatuinen Natural Garden
The site has always been a green space. In 1915 it was polder land and early photographs show that it was used for animal grazing. Then it was turned into a park (known as the Wilhelminaparkje) in the 1920s. A tree nursery was also established here between the 1930s and 1980s.
After the 1980s the area fell into disuse and over a number of years a natural garden developed here. However, at some point many of the trees were removed by the local municipality.
In 1991 residents living around the garden started an initiative to clear out and restore the land. A team of about 15 volunteers welcome visitors during opening hours and look after the garden.
Every year about 800 school children visit the garden as part of a programme to connect children with nature. Visitors can explore the garden at their leisure or book a guided tour, artists enjoy painting in the garden and some even exhibit their work here.
When you see the garden now it is difficult to imagine that this little green oasis was once completely abandoned.
Good to know
- The garden is open for limited hours to protect the vulnerability of the area.
- Updated opening hours:
Every Sunday afternoon from 13:00 – 16:00
Every Thursday afternoon from 14:00 – 17:00
Check the Slatuinen Facebook page for any changes to opening hours.
- Entry is free but donations are welcome.
How to get there
- From Amsterdam Central or Sloterdijk Stations take tram line 13 or 19. Get off at the Willem de Zwijgerlaan.
While you’re in Amsterdam, take some time to explore the rest of this beautiful city. Take yourself on a self-guided walking tour of De Wallen. This area is known for its Red Light District but there are so many other hidden gems to discover. If you’re hungry, head to Bar-Cafe Mankind for delicious food – it is near the Rijksmuseum but not in the main tourist area.
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Have you visited Alkmaar? It is a quick 40 minutes by train from Amsterdam.