History and future
The Appeltern gardens have now reached the age of 35 years. Nothing reminds us more clearly of advancement and growth in the industry than the first gardens made by professional gardener Ben van Ooyen, which were created around his home. Although he always had a love for plants and gardens, his main desire was to remain in the area where he was born. To gain new clients for his garden business, he thought it would be a good idea to design a variety of demonstration gardens so he asked a number of wholesale dealers if he could use their products, and subsequently, many contracts followed. Producers thought this was an appealing way to give their products greater attention. One of the products which Ben began to make use of was the typical ‘Dutch brick’ and soon private garden owners discovered how attractive and appealing these were to have.
Before he knew it, Ben had caught the garden virus! The more gardens he developed, the more passionate and devoted he became. To feel further inspired, Ben visited numerous gardens in the Netherlands and also in the United Kingdom. He became even more creative and distinctive in his design after visiting the RHS Wisley Gardens and Great Dixter. Ben continues to visit world renowned gardens, to keep informed about green developments and international trends. Due to his dedication and hard work, there are now around 200 gardens to visit at Appeltern and this number is still growing!
Past and present
Nowadays the gardens are completely different from the first gardens that were inspired by Ben. Although you cannot compare his current gardens with the gardens at the beginning of his career, people still recognise his unique style. In the beginning, professional landscape architects who first heard about Ben’s contracts with other architects and designers did not like this new initiative at all, as he was not given any specific architectural approval for the designs in his gardens. Ben remained unphased and carried on with his creations.
Today, a growing number of his gardens have been established by landscape architects and as a result, people are less enthused about visiting early, unassuming and simple gardens and have developed a taste for the complexities of modern designs.
In addition to the display of bricks and tiles found in the gardens, guests can also observe numerous botanical collections, such as: Viburnum, Helleborus and Heuchera; only a small sample of the wonderful plants growing at Appeltern. Furthermore, there are a number of innovative themed flower and Eastern gardens that have been created with the assistance of renown designers and architects, keen to display their originality.
As well as visiting the expansive gardens, visitors can view the great variety of garden material and furniture on show, allowing an opportunity to search for the perfect garden solution.
Earning money was never the primary reason to start this enterprise. The model for owner Ben van Ooyen was not simply to profit and capitalize, but to own and create a collection of the best gardens possible, unique to anywhere else. Each year, the gardens bring many new surprises. The estate covers more than 55 acres and is completely exclusive in style and diversity.
Appeltern Gardens have been transformed from one individual’s initiative, into a thriving family business. Ben’s brother Toon, a creative artist, has been active for many years to assist and his creations can be viewed in several of the gardens. In addition, Ben’s wife helps him with the administration and event planning in the office and his oldest son is also learning the ropes.
‘A garden is never ready’, and this is a rule that applies to Appeltern too. New ideas come and go and new initiatives are ready to execute. There is something for everyone at Appeltern, whether you are interested in the traditional aspects of gardening or whether you are seeking ideas for a modern, urban creation in your small backyard. Young and old will leave feeling inspired and fulfilled with their visit.
It is wise to pay a visit often, as these gardens are modified and transformed on a regular basis and new seasonal workshops offering practical activities are filling up and becoming increasingly popular.