Botanical Garden in Alkmaar
I have a soft spot for botanical gardens, both in the Netherlands and abroad. One of the first things to visit when I am in a new city in a foreign country is the botanical garden. The design or specific layout of such a garden is often not the first thing that strikes you. It’s about the collection of specific trees and plants. And not least, there are often name tags next to each plant. Very usefull if you want to save the photos in your archive. In this series various botanical gardens from all over the world are discussed, starting close to home in Alkmaar.
Hortus Alkmaar, a green oasis (part 1)
Tucked away on business park Beverkoog, to the east of Alkmaar is a green jewel: the Hortus Alkmaar. The garden was constructed in 1981 by VSM on half a hectare as a production garden for medicines. The garden has now been transformed into a green oasis with much attention for nature. Originally the collection consisted of 100 species of medicinal plants. Nowadays it has grown to more than 1000 species, of which at least 750 have medicinal strength.
Weeding by hand
At the moment the production of medicinal plants as raw material for mother tinctures are a large proportion of revenue. Raw materials are supplied to the mother company of VSM, but also to local companies. The management and production is entirely organic and the garden is also certified by Skal. With the help of about 100 volunteers, the garden is maintained and hand-driven. Plants are grown by volunteers for sale and for the garden. The seeds are also sold, in the garden and online.
Ecological diversity and special atmospheres.
The botanical garden is situated at the transition from a shoreline to a peat polder. When VSM settled here, the garden was raised with clean peat and sandy soil, which was released from the digging of the ditch. This provides a good basis for the soil. The garden is now a link in the ecological core area between Alkmaar and Heerhugowaard. The natural design of the watercourse in 1998 also contributes to the great ecological diversity in the field. In the straight waterway winding banks were built with different types of banks, some more steep than others. A kingfisher pair has been breeding for years on one of the steep banks. The special, colorful birds can easily be admired from the kingfisher-watching hut established in 2016.
Within an area of 2 ha you experience a variety of garden spheres. Once in the garden, the business park is far away. Opposite the entrance is the annuals garden. Along the tea garden and the greenhouse the stroll goes on through the production gardens Here you can find fields whith the special Nodding pasqueflower (Anemone pratensis), but also marigold (Callendula officinalis). Through a narrow path you will be guided along the ditch. Here you find yourself surrounded by nature. On the other side of the watercourse you’ll walk through the American forest, the dune garden, the bee garden and the rock garden. Here lies a field with toxic Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). On a limited surface there is a variety of species to see. Beyond the compost heaps is the stinzen and a native forest where in the spring anemones, wild daffodils and salomon’s seal cover the ground. Here runs a stream that is fed with water from the shoreline.
In order to keep attracting visitors, new activities are regularly organized. Recently a garden with carnivorous plants has been laid out, a rock garden has been realized and the kingfisher-watch hut has been realized. Many lectures are also held about nature and animal-friendly gardening. Unfortunately, the continuation of this garden is currently under pressure due to a planned development, for more information see https://www.redhortusalkmaar.nl. Hopefully this special piece of green will be preserved so that many people can enjoy this in the future.