“I Love Creating New Colour Schemes”
Garden Answers|April 2017

The Dutch are famous for planting tulips en masse and this dramatic spring garden is no exception. Owner Hetty van Baalen shows us around.

Hetty Van Baalen

This eye-catching spring garden makes a feature of tulips of all shapes and sizes. But it’s hardly surprising that tulips take a starring role here – this garden lies in the Netherlands, where these beautiful bulbs are the national flower.

“The garden is in the south west of the Netherlands, just one mile from the sea, so it enjoys a very mild climate,” explains owner Hetty van Baalen. “When we first arrived here more than 25 years ago there was nothing – just poor, bare soil that had deep cracks in summer. I really didn’t know what to do but fortunately my neighbours told me how to dig this heavy clay soil before the frosts and improve it with compost or sand or manure.

“At the start I was a complete beginner. You make mistakes and learn from them. I also spent lots of time watching Geoff Hamilton on Gardeners’ World!”

One of the first things Hetty did to organise the space was introduce garden rooms. “I wanted to make the layout more interesting,” she explains. “At the time I was reading a book on colour in the garden, which is why I made the rooms separate so I could give them a different colour scheme.”

For height Hetty planted fruit trees so she could enjoy the blossom in spring, shade in summer, fruit in autumn and structural form in winter. “I’ve got two apple trees, a pear, plum, walnut and hazelnut tree,” says Hetty. “They’re all very productive, but you have to keep an eye out for mice! They tend to take the nuts and then hide them away, so I’m forever finding buried hazelnuts – even in the barn.”

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