collage aanleg hondsrugtuin

The Hondsrug Garden A part of the UNESCO Global Geopark

The Hondsrug has acquired the status of UNESCO World Heritage site and the Hortus Haren is proud to be a part of the Hondsrug Unesco Global Geopark, the only area to have this status in the Netherlands.

The Hondrug geopark is special because the Ice Age landscape is apparent throughout the area. The Hondsrug region in East Drenthe consists of a complex of four parallel, straight ridges that are separated from each other by stream valleys.

The “real” ridge (hondsrug) is the most remarkable. It forms the eastern boundary of the sandy soil of Drenthe. East of here is the lower plain of the peat colonies of the Hunze valley. The Hondsrug region was formed at the end of the Saale Ice Age, about 140,000 years ago.

After the ice disappeared, a landscape of flat ridges and low areas remained. River valleys were later formed here. The bare ice age landscape was covered by a layer of glacial debris. This glacial debris consists of a mixture of clay, sand, gravel and many stones. We call this soil layer “boulder clay”. Part of the boulder clay consists of finely ground rock sanded down by the glaciers from the rocky bedrock of Sweden and Finland.

At the Hortus Haren, this tough loam layer is approximately 5 meters thick. Many boulders are found in the boulder clay. Of these “travelling stones” that lie in front of the entrance to the Hortus, many come from the north of Scandinavia.

The Hondsrug garden strives to provide insight into the varied Hondsrug landscape. It was designed by landscape architect Jan Maas, who was inspired by English landscape architects from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and their goal of creating landscapes which seemed centuries old.

The stream represents a meander of the Drentsche Aa. The Hunze is a peat river that flows east of the Hondsrug into the Hunze valley, the paths represent walking routes worn by meandering sheep. These can be traversed via a special bridge “The Ripple”, designed by artist Gabriel Lester. The Hondsrug garden is sown with a mixture of plants commonly found in the Hondsrug region. It is expected that 10 years will pass before this miniature Hondsrug regions will be fully developed. In the first few year, pioneer plants will dominate; other plants will appear once the soil is settled. Boreal species—plants that were present during the last ice age—will also be planted. Pine trees have also been planted.

We thank the following sponsors, who made the garden possible:

  • The Hondsrug Unesco Global Geopark
  • Province of Groningen
  • Haren Fund
  • Rabobank Incentive Fund
  • Emmaplein foundation
  • Friends of the Hortus Henricus Munting Association
  • Dusseldorp Infra Demolition and Environmental Engineering
  • The Wild Road Construction

View the design by landscape architect Jan Maas for the new Hondsrug garden in the Hortus Haren


View the video of the construction of the new Hondsrug (Dutch)