Dutch Gardens – Bulbs, Symmetry and Small Spaces

November 29, 2015 Uncategorized No Comments

When struggling with a small plot of land, many homeowners envision a space that is filled with dense gardens filled with colorful blooming flowers and well manicured bushes that draw the eye in and create symmetry. What these homeowners are picturing is commonly known as a Dutch garden.

KEUKENHOF GARDEN NETHERLANDS - APRIL 08: Keukenhof is the world's largest flower garden with 7 million flower bulbs on an area of 32 hectares. Keukenhof Garden Lisse Netherlands - April 08 2014.

The Beginnings of Dutch Gardening

The Dutch garden was created in the Netherlands. Designed to enhance compact spaces and limited amounts of open land, this gardening style is undeniably efficient. With the use of rectangular plots and intersecting walkways, Dutch gardening is a smart and effective way to give the illusion of space in a small yard and bring color and light to areas that might be lacking both.

Limited Natural Light and the Dutch Garden

Dutch gardens are well known for taking advantage of peek-a-boo beams of sunlight that creep between smaller spaces. In Holland, real estate is at a premium, and many neighborhoods contain houses that are placed very close together. The Dutch garden emerged from the people’s desire to enjoy beautiful flowers and lovely outdoor spaces even with their limited plots of land. The size of the gardens is often responsible for their ability to use whatever sunlight is available, and in many gardens, sun loving and shade loving plants are mixed in order to create a densely packed garden that can survive when hours of direct sunlight are not always available.

The Style of Dutch Gardening Explained

Creating a Dutch garden involves using carefully manicured, shorter bushes and shrubs mixed with dense fields of flowering gardens. In many cases, smaller gardens within the larger landscape are laid out in a grid-like pattern that creates symmetry through mostly the use of rectangles. Often missing from this design style are tall trees, long, winding pathways and large grassy areas.

Incorporating Water Features

Since the Netherlands experience a long wet season where they often see a lot of rain, water elements are also often featured in Dutch gardens. Canals lined with dwarf trees, carefully placed fountains, bird baths and smaller ponds laid in inconspicuous places throughout the pathways are some of the things you might find in a Dutch garden.

Bright, Beautiful Flowers

Another important feature is the eye catching, bright flowers you will find in a Dutch garden, many starting as bulbs. Tulips, calla lilies, smaller varieties of roses and crocuses are often arranged by color, in rows, to create a well defined area highlighted by red, yellow, orange, blue or purple. Flowers are mixed and match to add texture to the gardens, and many invite lovely wildlife guests including butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.

grass lawn with yellow daffodils  in dutch garden 'Keukenhof', Holland

Adding Elements of the Dutch Garden to Your Home

While you might not be looking to develop a complete Dutch garden in your own backyard, the bulbs that are such a popular part of this style of gardening are a perfect addition to any home. Instead of planting bulbs in straight lines, consider taking a more natural approach and spreading them throughout your garden in the same way that Mother Nature might in an open meadow. Smaller, daintier bulbs like crocus, squill and grape-hyacinth do well with this style of planting. If you choose this style of planting and are incorporating bulbs into grassy areas, be careful not to mow your lawn until the last foliage has died back. At this point, the flower has had plenty of opportunity to store nutrients underground, increasing your chances of seeing new blooms in the next growing season.

Dutch Gardening and Container Gardening

Tulips and hyacinths in a wooden container in an English garden.

Apartment dwelling families can incorporate many of the principals of Dutch gardening on their own porch or patio by mixing various sized containers and adding a mixture of colorful bulbs to each. The Henry Hudson tulip only grows to about 8-inches tall but adds a colorful boost of bright orange to any landscape. It makes a wonderful addition to any container garden and pairs nicely with fast spreading narcissus and taller, vibrant yellow Monte Carlo tulips. Add several different bulbs to each container to create densely populated container gardens that closely mimic the visual impact of many of the gardens found across Holland.

Dutch gardens are vibrantly colored, symmetrical and attractive to the eye. They work well in smaller yards and places where open land is limited. Whether you choose to grow a complete Dutch garden in your backyard or implement some of the beautiful features of this style of landscaping, you’re certain to improve your space with gorgeous textures, colors and scents that awaken your senses and bring life to your property.

Orange tulip in a dutch garden, Netherland


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