History of the Hortus

Our story starts when Apothecary Henricus Munting settled in Groningen in 1626 following many years of travelling in Europe. He created a garden full of plants behind his house in the Rozenstraat. The garden soon became highly regarded, partly because many of Muntings’ friends sent him plants from all over Europe. In 1642, he donated the garden to the city of Groningen and surrounding region for use by the University and inhabitants of Groningen. In this way, the University gained a plant garden for the first time. Munting was appointed provincial botanist with a teaching position at the University. The first catalogue of the garden was published in 1646 and included the names of plants from all parts of the world. In 1654, Munting, at the age of 71, was appointed Professor of Botany, the first in the history of the Republic of the United Netherlands.

It proved difficult to keep all the plants alive, particularly those from tropical regions. To solve the problem, the provincial council provided 1200 Guilders in 1656 for a reconditorium, a warmed greenhouse sometimes called an orangery. In 1675, an Agave flowered in the greenhouse; this was a first for the Republic.

Following the death of Henricus Munting in 1658 he was succeeded by his son, Abraham, who had been his father’s assistant for a number of years. Abraham published a book “ Waare oeffening der planten” in 1672 in which he wrote about his own experiences in growing and looking after plants. When Abraham died in 1683, he was succeeded by his son, Albert Munting.