Design and planting
According to Mien Ruys a wood was not very interesting in terms of space. It only becomes interesting when one comes across a clearing. In 1987 when the wood was included in the walk through the Gardens, it was discovered that after taking measurements of the trees, there was more or less a natural gap in the wood. By just cutting down a few trees a circular open space was created. This shape was emphasised by raising the circle. Above this circle the treetops do not touch each other so the sky remains visible and the circle is in the sunlight. Mien Ruys called this area ‘the cathedral’.
To start with, plants needing shade were experimented with but then the circle began to look too much like a ‘little garden in the wood’ so Mien Ruys decided to grow just one type of plant there. She chose Wood Sorrel, Oxalis acetosella, a ground creeper which grows well in acidic soil. The bright green leaves of the Wood sorrel give an almost luminous effect emphasising the light open space in the wood. On the outer edge of the circle there are Rhododendrons and holly, Ilex aquifolium.
The wood consists mainly of common oak trees, the Quercus robus. All efforts are made to conserve this wood as it is. This means that unhealthy trees are removed and replaced by new ones. Beeches are removed because they will eventually overshadow the oak trees.
The monoculture of Wood sorrel does not last and is not easy to maintain. Bare spots have to be replanted with clumps of Wood sorrel taken from other parts of the wood. This again confirms that the use of one sort of plant is unnatural and it is difficult to keep the soil in a good condition. Since the Spring of 2010 daffodils have been planted in the circle, forming a star shape. This was designed by Jaqueline van der Kloet.
The original wood was planted in the 19th century when Moerheim nursery was being developed and it served as a wind barrier. In 1987 the wood became part of The Gardens and the circle was designed. Except for replacing dead or unhealthy trees no changes have been made here.