WHat is THe Stinzenflora-monitor?

D.T.E. van der Ploeg, Photos Ytsen Kooistra, Stinzeplanten yn Fryslân. Ljouwert 1972

D.T.E. van der Ploeg, Photos Ytsen Kooistra, Stinzeplanten yn Fryslân. Statussymboal ut de alde tiid, Ljouwert (Fryske Akademy-Coulonhus, Ljouwert 1972). Collection: Van Riemsdijk/Van Riemsdijk-Zandee. Gift: W.J. Bosma-Ollemans.

Stinzenplanten’ are spring flowers at historic locations that grow semi-wild in some historic landscape gardens and do not grow in the wild in the area where these gardens or parks are located. These plants flower from February till mid-May. Most species are not native to the Netherlands. Friesland is well known for the Stinzenplants. A ride through the wide open Frysian countryside or in the sheltered areas of the Frysian hedgerow landscape brings you to beautiful country estates, picturesque villages with ‘Staten and Stinzen’ and other historic houses with parks. A ‘Stins’ is a medieval tower in Fryslân to protect the people who lived on a ‘terp’, an artificial mound. Later on these Stinzen were expanded and more comfortable to live in. Then they were called a ‘State’. Online the Stinzenflora-monitor keeps you informed weekly on where which Stinzenplants bloom.

The Stinzenflora-monitor is a tool to see where, when, which kind of Stinzenplant flowers. Stinzenflora occurs in several places in the Netherlands. This monitor is limited for the time being to a small number of high quality sites in Fryslân, and one in the province of Gelderland. The nature of the locations differs just like the occurrence of species.

This site aims to provide insight into:

– the nature of the various locations

– which Stinzenplants grow where

– the attractiveness of a location for a certain species – when where what blooms: current calendar

The second goal of the site is to stimulate interest in these plants and the areas where they grow. Greater interest may contribute to the preservation of this particular vegetation and the often special areas where they occur.

Many books and articles have been written about Stinzenplants and what is meant by this. The number of plants that are considered to belong to the group of Stinzenplants varies from author to author. Stinzenplanten can be defined as plants flowering in spring that can be found in places that belonged traditionally to ‘Stinzen or States’, country houses, old farms, etc. and that grow there semi-naturally. These plants do not grow in the vicinity of these locations in the wild.

In practice these plants are mainly early-flowering bulbous, or tuberous and rhizome plants that can easily propagate in the Stinzen environment (vegetative propagation and / or sowing without much human intervention) and that can survive for a long period of time once a site is no longer maintained.

Many Stinzenplants prefer a soil with good soil structure and sufficient available nutrients, especially phosphate, potassium and lime, and a not too high nitrogen content. Poor sandy soil is not very suitable for most species, unless active soil improvement is done (see, among others, Trudi Woerdeman: Gardening with Stinzenplanten, Joy of an early spring, 2008 [only in Dutch available]). Most clay soils have sufficient phosphate, potassium and lime, but often a too high a nitrogen content, which makes the Ground Elder a problem for the later flowering varieties and it can lead to an overgrowth of Bear’s garlic.

Under optimal conditions and with proper management these Stinzenplants can form an impressive ground cover in spring. It can be mesmerising to see such species in bloom growing under ancient trees in a well designed landscape garden . Although one can also enjoy small  groups of spring bulbs in a intensively managed garden, it is this not the focus of this monitor. Every area where a well-developed Stinzenflora occurs is different due to differences in location, history, management practice etc. The species that occur and the extent to which they occur varies also between different sites. Even the flowering time of the same species can vary per terrain. The more protected a site is, the sooner a species will blossom. Some species occur in many areas, while other species grow quite massively only in a few areas.

Responding to the content of the site, which is still under development, can be done via Twitter (@MonumentStiens), Facebook (StinzeStiens) or e-mail (stinze.stiens@icloud.com). If you believe that you also manage an interesting site in Fryslân with a large-scale occurrence of Stinzenplants and if the site is (limitedly) accessible to the public, you are invited to contact us.