Please support our struggle for keeping the VU Hortus open
We urge everyone who reads this to sign our online petition!
The Hortus Botanicus of VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is threatened with closure by the University’s Executive Board. The University never presented clear plans showing the intended use of the land on which the VU Hortus stands and stating when the change would happen. Therefore it was not possible to start a protest or prepare for this drastic event.
There were many rumours, however. One was that the Hortus had to make place for new buildings for the hospital, the VU University Medical Center (VUMC), which abuts the grounds of the Hortus. Now the rumors have become reality.
The decision has been made to demolish this valuable botanical garden in two to five years to make room for a new complex of high-rise buildings.
The VU Hortus
The VU Hortus, houses a very rich plant collection with more than 6.000 species. This small but charming botanical garden contains a greenhouse complex with various climates, under which a tropical greenhouse, a sub-tropical greenhouse, an orangerie, a cactus and succulent greenhouse and smaller greenhouses for growing seedlings. The exceptional cactus and succulent greenhouse, houses the largest collection in the Netherlands. Some of these plants are more then 100 years old, or perhaps older. Another part of the VU Hortus greenhouse complex is intended for students and their experiments.
Through the 40 years of its existence the VU Hortus, has built up a large collection of plants, trees and shrubs with natural-historical value. It is open to the public throughout the year, without entrance fee.
The different parts of the garden are very varied. There is a Chinese miniature landscape garden (The Penjing Garden), a Bonsai display and many types of bamboo are spread throughout the garden. There is an extensive collection of Australian trees and shrubs, which overwinter in the Orangerie and are set outside every spring.
Another area of concern for the VU Hortus, are plants that are taken into custody at f.i. Schiphol airport and sent to the VU Hortus to be taken care of. These plants are on the red list of endangered species and, in an ironical twist, may not be transported to other botanical gardens, even not within The Netherlands. They are legally protected and no property of the University. These plants may well be destroyed if the VU Hortus is closed, further reducing the biological diversity of the earth and the chance to examine these plants and their DNA.
Other areas in which the VU Hortus is strong
- Every year the VU Hortus participates in an international seed exchange. Many of these seeds, which with much expertise are collected, cleaned, sorted and packaged, come naturally from the VU Hortus’ own plants for the seed exchange and for sale to visitors
- Some of the Orangerie plants are 60-80 years old
- The VU Hortus has taken care to mark those plants which are named in the Bible and other religious traditions, and to give tours highlighting these special objects
- There is an extensive collection of epiphytic orchids and bromelia’s
- The employees of the VU Hortus, put much effort in educating and involving children in ’green’ activities
- The VU Hortus, provides a natural, restful and inspiring environment in the midst of the University/hospital area, which is mainly comprised of tall buildings, busy roads and mass transit
- Visitors often come to buy unusual plants not found in the local nurseries, and to learn more about their own plants and gardening
- The dedicated experts of the Hortus VU also care for the many plants in the University buildings and in the offices of it’s employees
- There is an extensive and unusual collection of scented geraniums and pelargoniums
- The VU Hortus is a member of the national plant collection, an umbrella organisation for all 18 botanical gardens in The Netherlands. Unfortunately this watchdog organisation itself is also threatened with extinction, as the concerned Minister has withdrawn its subsidy
- Patients, staff and visitors of the hospital are often found enjoying the rich colours and filling their lungs with the sweet smells of the garden. They are very happy to have a garden so close by. It has been shown that plants in the work environment improve worker’s performances and well-being. Why wouldn’t we want to have a ‘green experience’ available for city-dwellers? We should be creating more gardens, not destroying the valuable ones!
- There are approximately 40 large trees in the garden, among others many types of pinus (pines), ornamental cherry and other fruit trees, the famous hankerchief tree (Davidia involucrata), gingko biloba. etc.
- The VU Hortus colleagues are supported and supplemented by a large group of dedicated volunteers, people from the city with varying skills and expertises. There is also a large group of generous donors who love and support this unique garden in Amsterdam
- The VU Hortus has no entrance fee.
We urge everyone who reads this to sign our online petition, and send a letter or e-mail to the Board of the University and the hospital to protest against this unnecesary waste of a valuable and irreplaceable treasure. We will do our very best to prevent theVU Hortus from closing.
College van Bestuur van de Vrije Universiteit
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Raad van Bestuur van het VU Medisch Centrum
1007 MB Amsterdam
You will receive an answer and be advised to read it carefully.