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The Garden

The Garden

Snippendaal Garden

In the 17th century, medicinal herbs were vital to the city’s health care. Therefore, when the Hortus was founded in 1638, medicinal plants made up the core of the plant collection. The plants were used for the education of doctors and pharmacists in the 17th century.

In 1646, Johannes Snippendaal was appointed as prefect (director) of the Hortus Medicus Amsterdam. In that same, year he managed to catalogue the entire collection of the Hortus. By the end of that year, he counted 796 different plant species, the majority of which were medicinal plants, but special ornamental plants were also included. By making this list, he wrote the first catalogue of the Hortus Medicus Amsterdam.

In 2007, the Hortus completed a unique project: a translation of Snippendaal’s catalogue and the realization of a garden containing the plants described in the catalogue. The plants growing in this Snippendaal Garden were also being cultivated in the Hortus Medicus in 1646. Nothing is known about the layout of the Hortus Medicus. Bureau SB4 (Wageningen) made a contemporary design, reminiscent of the straight rectangular beds of 17th century gardens.

The plants in the Snippendaal Catalogue can be found here (PDF)

Large pond

Especially in summer, the large pond can be located from far by the impressive Gunnera. Every year, the giant leaves grow from scratch. The pond is sided by a dune perch, showing plant species that grow in the Dutch dunes, and sided by the Rhododendron collection which bursts out in colours every spring.


The Semicircle portrays plant systematics: species that are closely related can be found growing near each other, while those that have little in common are grown far apart. This is the first and only systematic garden in The Netherlands in which the flowering plants are categorized according to ‘molecular systematics’. This kind of systematics is based on the similarities between genetic material. The system for this classification of flowering plants is called the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) system.

The Semicircle is a true sea of flowers in the summer, while the straight symmetric lines of its beds are visible in the winter. The shape – and the use of box (Buxus) hedges – are clearly reminiscent of the formal garden architecture that was popular before the Romantic Movement. The Semicircle was, however, designed in 1863.

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