Hortus Botanicus Leiden
Rapenburg 73, Leiden, Netherlands
www.hortus.leidenuniv.nl - +3171 - 527 7249
Hortus Botanicus Leiden Reviews
For Summer and Winter, plants will help you through Apr 18, 2008
During the Dutch ‘Museumweekend’ (see my review: http://www.travbuddy.com/Museumweekend-v192562), we went to several museums. Among them was the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden. The Hortus for short, is not so much a museum as it is a more than 400 year old botanical garden. The first part dates back to 1594!
The garden is part of the University of Leiden and used as a means to study plants and flowers. Over the centuries, the Hortus collected seeds, flowers and plants from all over the world, always with the approval of local government and with the utmost care for the environment. Tropical plants, cacti, mosses, palm trees, water plants, bulbs, you name it, they’ve got it.
Since the Hortus has one of the largest collections of species in the world, they are often called-upon when some local specie somewhere in the world is on the brink of extinction. In a way, the Hortus helps to keep the world’s biodiversity strong and healthy. The Hortus is home to a collection of rare species, e.g. the giant arum, that blooms in a peculiar way and when in bloom, smells like a rotting corps. Don't worry, it only blooms every four to five years. Last time it bloomed was in July 2003, so they expect it to bloom in summer 2008.
Another highlight in the collection is the Victoria amazonica, a water plant with leafs so big, it can hold a small child and still stay afloat.
The Hortus has several theme gardens (like a Japanese garden, a herb garden, a rose garden and so on) and quite a few greenhouses. In those greenhouses, plant families are grouped together. This serves two purposes; it helps students to see the correlation between members of the same family and it provides us visitors an opportunity to see entire plant families in all varieties. Plants are, much like humans, here shown equal in diversity.
I know I said the Hortus isn’t a museum, but like any self respecting museum, the Hortis has a gift shop and coffee corner too. They serve a good cappuccino for € 2.10 and have at least 12 different flavours of tea. The assorted sandwiches and rolls are average priced, meaning just as expensive as in any other museum. A high-tea can be booked for groups. The entrance fee is very reasonable (€ 5) considering you can wander around the grounds for as long as you like and (with the variable Dutch weather in mind) allow you to switch from the gardens outside to the safety and warmth inside one of the many greenhouses. On Sundays, you can join a guided tour, but on weekdays, the groundkeepers and caretakers are more then willing to answer any of your questions.
I would recommend a visit to the Hortus to anyone, and for those of you who (like me) are amazed by what nature has to offer, the Hortus is a ‘must see’ on your list.
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