My new found fascination on Victoria Amazonica (largest water lily in the world) has brought me here to Hortus Botanicus in Leiden. This is the oldest botanic garden in the Netherlands founded by University of Leiden in 1590.
Hortus Botanicus was pioneered by a Flemish botanist Carolus Clusius (1526-1609) whose original Front Garden contained over 1000 plant species. The same Front Garden still exists today and it is the oldest part of Hortus dating back to 1594.
The elegant garden landscape is divided into sections, all of which have a separate theme; the Winter Garden, tropical greenhouses, the Von Siebold Commemorative Japanese Garden, the Orangery, the Systematic garden, Chinese herb garden and the Observatory Garden. Look out for the beautiful rosarium, the extensive ferns collection and the flourishing vegetable garden along the way. Do not forget to admire the remarkable Victoria Amazonica housed within the 19th-century Victoria greenhouse. Record has it, a giant water lily flowered for the first time on 8 July 1872 right here in Hortus Botanicus Leiden. It generally flowers during the summer nights and only in bloom for two days. But … It is the leaves that I am obsessed about!
Nowadays, Hortus Botanicus has more than 60.000 specimens from all over the world. Its mission is to manage a living plant collection for research and education and for public interest and enjoyment. My visits usually include marveling at the carnivorous plant nursery and idolizing the variety of Asian orchids. Many of the plants grow within weeks, so every visit reveals something different.
The park along Witte Singel canal is a serene oasis tucked away inside the old city. Feel free to take a long rest on one of the benches or bring a plaid to lay on the grass. You are allowed to carry your bags along so bring some snacks and enjoy the garden.
Stop by the Old Observatory Visitor Center on Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday when it is open. There are free guided tours in Dutch and English on these days at 11:30 and 15:00.
Hortus Botanicus Leiden is definitely a hidden gem within the cityscape commotion. Bring your kids along and cultivate that love for nature! A different kind of visit for a change.
Read about my recent visit to Oude Hortus, a botanical garden in Utrecht.
Address: Rapenburg 73. 2311GJ Leiden.
Opening Hours: Daily from 8am – 6pm (1 April till 31 Oct). Opens from 10am – 4pm during the winter months (1 November till 31 March) closed on Mondays.
Entrance Fees: €7.50 for adults and €3.00 for kids 4-12 yrs old. Free entry for Museumkaart holders. Free access to the Old Observatory with a valid entry.
Getting There: https://hortus.leidenuniv.nl/en/visitors-info/getting-here