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Green Inspiration: Gardening Amsterdam Style

I've seen lots of great Guerrilla Gardening projects over the years. From an army of brightly planted tree wells spotted in New York, to the Arbutus Greenway right here in Vancouver, Canada and they have always brought a smile to my face. The thought of people taking over an abandoned or underused plot of land and filling it with life just makes me happy on the most basic level. But I have to say, I always thought of them as a space that was purposely planted and maintained as a garden would be. Until that is, I visited Amsterdam last summer.

Here I saw not only the magnificent collections of Hortus Amsterdam (https://www.dehortus.nl/en/) and a frankly staggering array of naturalistic public parks and beds (Piet Oudolf's Vlinderhof is well worth the journey! https://en.vlinderhof.com/ ) but plants, growing in every available space throughout out the city. I mean every crack in the sidewalk, every little nook was growing. Hollyhocks, lavender and santolina, buddleia, ivy and even wisteria was sprouting from the smallest bits of soil, covering brick facades and stretching along well worn cobbles. It blew my mind and it also stuck with me long after my visit.

Plants are such a huge part of the Netherlander culture that they are simply included in every aspect of daily life, by everyone, in the smallest of ways. A few stems of Angelica fill an oversize glass vase in a cafe window, a messy bouquet tucked into a bicycle basket or an old plastic pail repurposed into a doorway planter, they are literally everywhere in the cityscape. It really made me consider how plants could fit into my life in a more natural way. I had always carefully chosen plants to fill the spaces that I had prepared for them, but I felt a paradigm shift after this visit. We really don't need to be so precious about tending plants, they are stronger than we'd like to think. A few thoughtful seeds in a forgotten corner is all it takes to green up the concrete.

Recently, my partner Alicia and I were inspired to go Guerrilla and make some seed bombs for our latest Simple Leaf pop up plant sale. We chose three unique seed blends from a local producer (all suitable to Vancouver's conditions and non-invasive) and mixed up some bombs.

We decided to offer:

Tall Blend - Hollyhock, Sunflower (lemon queen), Lupins and Gaura

Xeriscape Blend - Poppy (mission bells), Yarrow (white), Nigella (persian jewels)

Pollinator Blend - Yarrow (white), Milkweed, 5 spot (Nemophilia) and Purple Tansy (Phacelia)

So I just wanted to say, thanks Amsterdam, this summer our city will be a little more alive because of you!

  • Sara-Jane & Alicia at simpleleafdesign.com (visit us on instagram at simpleleafdesign2 or say hello at simpleleafdesign@gmail.com)

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