New experimental garden (2006)

The new experimental garden is the most recent addition to the Gardens and was completed in 2006. The area is divided up by hedges and paths and designed by the Mien Ruys bureau. Different experiments with plants, such as the Rose garden, the Helenium border and the ‘Grow and flower’ border are being carried out here. Exhibitions by various groups of artists are also held in this garden.

Design and planting

The different sorts of hedges give a solid structure dividing the area into several parts. The basic element is grass with flowerbeds in between. The  loose planting of the flowerbed areas contrast with the cut grass.  A square shaped orchard of apple trees adds height to the garden and emphasises the geometric layout of the garden. A clear structure of paths connect the different areas to each other. The ditch with the weeping willows along the edge continues along to the  stretch of water on the west side of the garden. Not only is this an important feature in this design but it is also a ‘statement’ from the surrounding landscape. This whole area is surrounded by rows of indigenous trees and shrubs. Experiments are being carried out in different areas of this garden.

The rose border

Earlier attempts to use roses as the main element in a planting scheme, such as the attempts in the Autumn garden and Corner garden, were not very successful. However, since the last experiment with roses in The Gardens, there has been some improvement in the cultivation of roses. Proof of this hopes to be gained in a new attempt in the Rose border. Roses with the German ADR Rose label or a similar Dutch Top Quality Rose label have been chosen. These are types of roses which have been checked for health , strength of growth and flowering without using chemical pesticides. The Rose border is a combination of roses, strong perennials and ornamental grasses and designed to be used in public areas.

Helenium border

The Helenium border is an example of a border with just one type of perennial as the main plant. The different Helenium varieties are combined with other perennials and ornamental grasses.  The border is the result of a Helenium collection in The Gardens. This was the work of Beatrice Krehl  (gardener from 1996-2005) who had been collecting varieties over the years. This collection had its own spot in the New Experimental garden.  When designing the Helenium border the best of the varieties which had not already been used elsewhere in The Gardens were used. The rest of the collection was passed on to Henk and Dori Jacobs from the Jacobs nursery. The Jacobs nursery are the holders of the Dutch Helenium collection. Both Helenium ‘Mien Ruys’and Helenium ‘Beatrice’ were selected at the Jacobs nursery.

The nursery corner

The nursery corner behind the Farm Shed is part of the New experimental border. New varieties of existing plants, which have been brought on the market by nursery gardeners as improved sorts, are tested here. If they are successful they are used in the garden. They are shown to the public in the New additions garden. In the past few years the nursery corner has also been used to grow perennials to sell  in the plant corner.

Grow and Flower border.

In 2011 the Dutch gardening magazine Groei &Bloei (Grow and Flower) introduced a 26 plant scheme with the aim of stimulating more plants and less paving in the garden. In their monthly magazine they paid special attention to 26 different plants for people with little time and little knowledge of greenery. Perennials , ornamental grasses and a few shrubs requiring little attention but providing a long flowering period and experience of the seasons were used. The idea of 26 plants was based on something Mien Ruys once said: “If you can say everything you want to with just 26 letters of the alphabet, you should be able to design any garden with just a few plants.’ Among others, Tineke Grin, the gardener who took over in 2005, made a list of plants that are strong and easy to care for. A group of 20 professionals chose the 26 plants which were illustrated.

In order to show what you can achieve by using this plan, the ‘grow and flower’ border was developed in the New experimental garden.   16 of the 26 sorts in the plan were planted in a  flowerbed of 5 x 5 metres. This proved successful: the border is in flower for quite a long time and remains interesting all year round.

The shrub border

The row of shrubs behind the Rose border forms the transition from the more cultural look of the Rose and Helenium borders to the natural look of the row of indigenous trees. The accent lies here on flowering in the Spring and the berries and changing of colour in the Autumn, supplementing the Rose and Helenium borders which are at their best in Summer.


In 1991 the ground by the Farm shed was bought by the Mien Ruys Foundation. The shed was renovated and used for courses and expositions. The area behind the Farm Shed made further experiments possible. Part of it was used to experiment with new varieties, the present Nursery Corner. The rest remained  as an area of grassland.

In 2006 the Sculpture Garden was developed here to enable artists to exhibit their work and this was included in the Garden walk. After a while it became clear that the artists preferred to choose their own spot in the Gardens.

Experimenting with plants and materials is still one of the aims of the Mien Ruys Gardens. Most of the other gardens were designed by Mien Ruys and have received the title of National monument. The possibility of experimenting in these gardens is very limited so the Sculpture garden was created for new experiments. In 2010 the name Sculpture Garden was changed to New Experimental garden. The Rose border and Helenium border were developed in  2010.  The shrub border was added in 2013.

The little wood behind the chalet, Ruys in’t Riet, has been developed for children. This ‘Secret wood’ has a willow hut, a hut on poles and many other surprises. It is part of a challenging adventure walk for our young explorers.