City garden (1960)

This garden was developed when the Gardens were extended round about 1960. The garden is an example of a design for a standard sized garden of about 6 by 10 metres. By using a number of basic design principles this garden looks larger than it is. Although the city garden is more than 50 years old these principles are still being used.

Design and planting

After the war, many houses were built with small gardens. People had also more time and took more interest in gardening. Mien Ruys wanted to show that designing a small garden like this could make it very different from what usually happened: grass with a flowerbed around it and a straight path to the back of the garden. She used the following principles, making a garden look larger:

-          Using a diagonal line in the garden makes the garden look bigger.

-          Placing a tree gives the garden depth

-          Placing hedges of different heights stops the ‘ long narrow garden’ effect.

-          Letting grass continue from one side of the garden to the other makes the garden look wider.

-          Letting grass grow between the paving stones stops the effect of cutting the garden into two parts.


The garden was laid out using cheap materials and is simple in its upkeep. The hedges on both sides are hornbeam, Carpinus betulus and field maple, Acer campestre.  A palisade of wooden poles has been placed at the rear of the garden and can be used for climbers. The Pride of India, Koelreuteria paniculata, is very suitable for a smaller garden and as well as turning  a beautiful yellow in Autumn, it has rather unusual bladdery fruits. A number of trustworthy and strong perennials which flower alternately through the season have been used for the flower border.


Through its simplicity Mien Ruys has made this garden timeless. Except for the usual upkeep and changes in the planting, this garden has not changed much since it was designed. Originally , the field maple hedge was a low fence. A blue spruce hedge which was planted earlier was removed in the eighties. The sandpit was added in 1986.

The City garden, the Sunken garden, the standard perennial borders and the Reed pond have all been nominated recently as National monuments, from the period of rebuilding after the Second World War.