History in a nutshell

In 1924, the young head teacher and horticulture instructor Pieter Boschman in the Kennemer bulb-growing village of Limmen saw with sorrow how many of the old historic tulip varietysen, some as old as hundreds of years, are in rapid danger of extinction. He begins collecting these old bulbous plants and plants them in his garden around the schoolmastersdwelling next to the medieval NH church.

After four years, the garden is full. Boschman comes into contact by chance with the renowned hyacinth breeder Dr. W.E. de Mol of Amsterdam. A teacher at an HBS, De Mol later worked at Columbia University in the United States and elsewhere. He also has a special collection of bulbous plants: historic hyacinths from after 1830. De Mol is also struggling with a lack of space. Boschman and De Mol established the Hortus Bulborum in 1928. Boschman’s childhood friend Nicolaas Blokker, now a bulb grower and exporter, offered them to plant the collection on a plot of his land. They grabbed the offer with both hands.

With that, the Hortus Bulborum is a reality. When the Van Hof & Blokker firm moves to Heiloo more than sixty years later, the Hortus Bulborum follows its generous “host. In 1988, the Hortus Bulborum Foundation was invited to participate in the National Plant Collection Foundation, an institution in which, among other things, all academic plant collections cooperate. That invitation is a feather in the cap of all those volunteers who have maintained the garden and collection for decades. Five years later, the bulbs return to her native soil; to the fields that, like the former old public school, are near the little church. Here, for the first time in its existence, the Hortus Bulborum will have its own place, complete with monumental entrance gate and bulb shed cum information center.

From that moment on, the Hortus Bulborum, until then primarily an attraction and pollen bank for the bulb trade, is increasingly addressing the general public. In 2003, the Hortus Bulborum celebrated its 75th anniversary. In more than three-quarters of a century, Pieter Boschman’s private bulb collection has grown into a unique gene bank, a cultural-historical gem and an unprecedented treasure trove of bulbs.

History of the tulip