Willem van Riemsdijk, ed. and photos Trudy van Riemsdijk – Zandee

Barend Hooghoudt (son of doctor Hendrik Hooghoudt and Menna Hooghoudt-Hofstee) with niece Minnie. Photo, 1928. In the background the 'vegetable garden circle' with, among other things, beanpoles.

Barend Hooghoudt (son of doctor Hendrik Hooghoudt and Menna Hooghoudt-Hofstee) with niece Minnie. Photo, 1928. Archive: Heleen Hoevers-Hooghoudt. In the background the ‘vegetable garden circle’ with, among other things, beanpoles.

Our 19th century Vlaskamp garden in Stiens consists of a limited number of larger beds. One of those has been used as a vegetable garden since the construction of the garden. We refer to this bed as the ‘Vegetable Garden Circle’, because of the shape and because of the original function, although it no longer has the function of a kitchen garden. When we bought the property this part of the garden, like the rest of the garden, was an almost impenetrable wilderness. Nothing could be seen of its original structure.
Van de structuur van het perk was niets meer te zien.

View towards the vegetable garden circle. Blooming wild plum. 19 April 2013.

View towards the vegetable garden circle. Blooming wild plum. 19 April 2013.

Old fruit trees: pear trees (not yet known) and 2 apple trees (presumably English Winter Goldpearmain and Lime Apple). 22 May 2013.

Old fruit trees: pear trees (not yet known) and 2 apple trees (presumably English Winter Goldpearmain and Lime Apple). 22 May 2013.

The vegetation consisted mainly of Japanese knotweed, Greater Butterweed, Giant Hogweed, Brambles, seedlings of partly extensively grown Sycamore maples, seedlings of Caucasian wingnut, some not too big and not too old apple and plum trees and a number of Salmonberries. On the edge of this bed are a number of old apple and pear trees, which have suffered a lot from the grown up Maple seedlings.

Notary apple tree (Dutch Apple 1890, perhaps originally seedling of the Princess noble), our so-called 鈥楳ondriaan apple tree'. 23 August 2012.

Notary apple tree (Dutch Apple 1890, perhaps originally seedling of the Princess noble), our so-called 鈥楳ondriaan apple tree’. 23 August 2012.

The first intervention was aimed at restoring the original structure of the design by garden architect Gerrit Vlaskamp (1868). After we had discovered the original path, restoration could only be done by cutting our way through the wilderness. Almost in the middle of the circle is an apple tree (Notary apple tree) that has a nice size and shape. We refer to this tree as the ‘Mondriaan tree’, because of some resemblance to the fruit tree in one of the first abstract paintings by Mondriaan. We removed all unwanted vegetation. This has resulted in interesting sight lines in the garden, including a better view of the old 15the century church tower of Stiens.

Salmonberry hedge on the edge of the vegetable garden circle. 'Mondriaan tree' in the background. 5 April 2014.

Salmonberry hedge on the edge of the vegetable garden circle. ‘Mondriaan tree’ in the background. 5 April 2014.

The management of the garden is mainly focused on the optimisation of the Stinzenplants and that is why we decided to no longer give this part of the garden the function of vegetable garden. The Stinzenplants that grow here may have been partly planted there once, but have also expanded聽 partly through natural distribution. Many species only occurred in small numbers and very locally in this area. They became only gradually visible after all unwanted vegetation had been removed and the management focused on the Stinzenplants.

Salmonberry with a fragrant Narcissus, probably the Seagull, in the foreground. 5 April 2014.

Salmonberry with a fragrant Narcissus, probably the Seagull, in the foreground. 5 April 2014.

Ice Follies, Daffodil in the vegetable garden circle. 18 April 2014.

Ice Follies, Daffodil in the vegetable garden circle. 18 April 2014.

Orange Phoenix, Daffodil in the vegetable garden circle. 18 April 2015.

Orange Phoenix, Daffodil in the vegetable garden circle. 18 April 2015.

Insulinde, Daffodil in the vegetable garden circle. April 2015.

Insulinde, Daffodil in the vegetable garden circle. April 2015.

Mount Hood, Daffodil in the vegetable garden circle. 2 May 2015.

Mount Hood, Daffodil in the vegetable garden circle. 2 May 2015.

The Salmonberries flank a part of the circle edge at some distance from the outer edge. This is a staging that fits very well in a design of a Vlaskamp garden. There are groups of old cultivated Daffodils somewhere between the Salmonberries and at other places in the circle. Both the Daffodils and the Salmonberries now show up well.

We also found a group of garden Solomon’s seal, a single Helleborus, and two small groups of Common Lungsort. There was also a plastic pond. This year we decided to remove the plastic pond. At the edge of the pond there was a small clump of white Snake鈥檚 Head Fritillaries, mixed with some pink ones.

Snake鈥檚 Head Fritillaries. 28 April 2013.

Snake鈥檚 Head Fritillaries. 28 April 2013.

Pond removed. Behind it: Garden Solomon's seal and the 'Mondriaan tree'. 17 August 2015.

Pond removed. Behind it: Garden Solomon’s seal and the ‘Mondriaan tree’. 17 August 2015.

Two years ago, at the foot of a Plum tree, we discovered some green sprigs that became visible at the end of autumn.

Three-cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum). 5 April 2014.

Three-cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum). 5 April 2014.

This proved to be Three-cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum). Around that spot was also a group of Winter Aconites, there were a few Bluebells and some Snowdrops. Under the ‘Mondriaan tree’ we found a few Siberian Squills (Scilla siberica). Snowdrops were present in a few large groups. Interestingly, a species like a Three-cornered Leek, which can grow enormously when the conditions are favourable had not yet spread to any extent.

2 beds with Common Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis and presumably 'rubra'), leaf of faded Snowdrops, Plum tree Reine Victoria. 5 April 2014.

2 beds with Common Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis and presumably ‘rubra’), leaf of faded Snowdrops, Plum tree Reine Victoria. 5 April 2014.

View from the former orchard to the vegetable garden circle with Winter Aconite, Three-cornered Leek and Snowdrops. 1 March 2015.

View from the former orchard to the vegetable garden circle with Winter Aconite, Three-cornered Leek and Snowdrops. 1 March 2015.

The changes that have taken place in the ‘Vegetable Garden Circle’ in the past few years are the result of the chosen management that has gradually evolved. There has never been a fixed management plan nor a design as to how this part of the garden should look like.

Garden Solomon's seal, Cow parsley and Ground Elder. 10 May 2013.

Garden Solomon’s seal, Cow parsley and Ground Elder. 10 May 2013.

Between the Salomons’ seal grew Ground Elder, Nettle and some Cow parsley. These plants have been removed by hand in recent years by cutting them off or breaking them down as close to the ground as possible. The result is that the Solomon鈥檚 seal plants now form a larger dense group. Because this group also wanted to expand further, this year for the first time with the scythe some of the edges were mown. The plants die at the end of autumn and reappear in the spring. In the meantime, the vegetation in this place is so dense that it is hardly necessary to weed.

Three-cornered Leek background, Bluebells in foreground, Bear's Garlic (right). 13 May 2015.

Three-cornered Leek background, Bluebells in foreground, Bear’s Garlic (right). 13 May 2015.

Between the Three-cornered Leek occasionally weeding is done in the same way as between the garden Solomon’s seal. The plants are now expanding considerably. These plants are also not mown in summer because seeds develop later in the season. The idea is to let the plants grow as a large group around the Plum tree (so called Wichters, small yellow plums). In order to promote this process, this year some seeds were harvested by hand and scattered around the Plum tree. The plants are now sowing out clearly, partly by nature and partly thanks to our management. Within a few years, this species will probably have reached the extent we now envisage at this location. If this species becomes too aggressive we may decide to try to remove it from the garden.

Also the few perennial plants of Common Lungwort have expanded considerably because we do not mow them and because we do some weeding. Meanwhile, two decent patches have emerged, quite close together and not too far from the path around the circle. The plants within a spot are now so dense that weeds hardly get a chance anymore. Meanwhile, the management is also focused on keeping the size and shape of these places in such a way that it fits well with the structure of our 19th century Vlaskamp garden.

Vegetable garden circle at sunset. Transplanted Snowdrops to connect existing groups are already clearly visible. View line to the St. Vitus church. 3 March 2015.

Vegetable garden circle at sunset. Transplanted Snowdrops to connect existing groups are already clearly visible. View line to the St. Vitus church. 3 March 2015.

There were a few places with lots of Snowdrops, which by now also expand well with the chosen mowing management. The Snowdrops grow luxuriantly in the garden in several places. The management aims to connect these places optically and practically more together so that it forms an even more beautiful whole in the early spring than it already is. To help nature, we have transplanted snowdrops last year and this year and planted them in the “Vegetable Garden Circle” to establish connections between the already present groups of Snowdrops. The idea is that the Snowdrops meander through the whole garden, as it were. The best effect is obtained if the plants sow themselves, which they do in our garden. In the circle, a few Wild tulips from other places in the garden have been transplanted. So far, they do not grow very well.

Scilla siberica planted. 11 September 2015.

Scilla siberica planted. 11 September 2015.

Helleborus which could not wait until spring in 2015 and was in bloom by the extremely warm weather at the end of December. 28 December 2015.

Helleborus which could not wait until spring in 2015 and was in bloom by the extremely warm weather at the end of December. 28 December 2015.

Helleborus in the vegetable garden circle. 18 April 2015.

Helleborus in the vegetable garden circle. 18 April 2015.

Below the 鈥楳ondriaan tree’ we found some Siberian Squills (Scilla鈥檚). This year we added quite a few of those, organically grown bulbs, bought from De Warande. In this area there was initially a lot of Ivy covering the ground. After we removed it as well as we could, the Salmonberries, Snowdrops and Daffodils grow much better than before. The red flowering Helleborus now grows better and flowers beautifully, but has not yet expanded. The old fruit trees that we had pruned professionally gave a lot of fruit this year.

'Mondriaan tree' in bloom, surrounded by Cow parsley and Common Lungwort in the foreground. 13 May 2015.

‘Mondriaan tree’ in bloom, surrounded by Cow parsley and Common Lungwort in the foreground. 13 May 2015.

The various interventions and control measures create more structure in the vegetation. Partly the vegetation can be controlled and in part nature determines how the vegetation develops. To find out which management fits best in which situation, we follow closely the developments in your own terrain, visit regularly other areas with Stinzenplants and we have discussions with other people who have experience managing such gardens.

Overview garden with vegetable garden circle and view of the church. 17 August 2015.

Overview garden with vegetable garden circle and view of the church. 17 August 2015.