Since its founding in 1594, the Clusius Garden has maintained both a public and a scientific and educational purpose. Originally designed to be a garden for research and education on the medicinal properties of certain plants, it was a botanical garden with a large collection from around the world from the start. The garden is a typical renaissance garden, divided in four quadrants, each subdivided in rectangular plots.
The History of the Garden
From 1933 until 2009, the Clusius Garden was situated outside the Hortus. Here, it was an excellent example of a ‘Hortus conclusus’, an enclosed garden, as it was originally intended. Reconstruction of the garden in its original location was not a possibility in the ‘30’s, because the Front Garden housed the famous brown beech. Only when this tree had to be taken down in 1987, this reconstruction became a possibility and it was completed in 2009. The previous location of the Clusius garden now houses the nursery. Here, the Hortus cultivates plants and experiments with endangered or invasive species. The nursery is only opened to the public on special occasions.
The Clusius Garden now
The current Clusius Garden is slightly smaller than the original because modern maintenance equipment and a larger amount of visitors require more space and larger pathways. The hedges and fences, inspired by designs by Vreedeman de Vries from 1583, emphasize the enclosed character of a ‘Hortus conclusus.’ The fencing around the valuable tulips and the pavilion are reconstructed after an engraving from 1610 by Woudanus. This engraving, and several others, can be seen in the Museum Boerhaave.
The extensive network of prefect Clusius and the plant collection of pharmacist Cluyt meant that the original planting contained a whopping 1585 plants. These were not only medicinal herbs, but also several exotic species and ornamental plants were planted, including the tulip.