SOME INFORMATION ABOUT THE “HEEMPARKS” IN AMSTELVEEN
At the moment everyone is wanting to create environmentally-sensitive green spaces everywhere. At the same time, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the concepts of Naturepark-wildplanting and “ecological” greening. In Amstelveen our first attempt was to colonise a marshy area with native plant communities. This attempt was a complete failure: The hostile, unnatural environment encouraged one group of plants to flourish at the expense of the others, which in turn adapted badly to this new “home”. Als a result the neighbouring plants were overwhelmed. If you want to give an educational, biological or aesthetic value to the planting, then human intervention is essential.If you intend to establish native-planting in a garden of park, then you must take account of the resource available in the given circumstances. This will determine whether you go for a more or less cultivated approach, or resort to something more naturalistic.
The wealth of native plant species in the parks, green spaces and road verges of Amstelveen is almost entirely based on the idea of green space controlled completely by man. Before you begin you must be convinced that you have fully committed colleagues. The must have a great interest in nature, and an appreciation of the need to vary intensity of management: the patience not to want to force things and a symphaty for letting natural processes direct the practices of daily work. One must ask oneself what attracts people into the nature-parks and what the recreational value of these green spaces is?
A large number of visitors come because they are interested in natural history. Often, after a visit to the parks, the initial brief experience is repeated, alone or with the family. We have noticed that many visitors come initially to enjoy the beauty and peace of the whole, and not specifically for the plants. Teachers and photographers see the park with different eyes. They find material for teaching and for beautiful color photos. The nature park has a further value for town-dwellers as a plant-reservoir where they can come across plants which, sadly these days, one would otherwise only learn about from books. The Heempark offers one of those rare opportunities to become absorbed in oneself on one’s doorstep; to get close to nature. In fact, many birds and insects feel at home there, finding peace, food and a safe place to hide.
The ( botanicalpark ) Heempark is a wonderful way of introducing nature into housing and recreation areas. Through the vision and skill of the landscape architect, images can be created which will grow more beautiful and more natural-looking as they develop.
These images are not simply romantic self-indulgence, they depend upon a feeling for and an understanding of natural shapes and colours.
That is why everything makes an immediate impression on the visitor.Light and shade, wetness and dryness force us to select specific plants for these different habitats. It is difficult to believe that only thirty or forty years ago, very few of these areas existed. It was the forsight and the horticultural skill of many people working for the Parks Department, which made these landscapes possible. The native plants were cultivated in the first place because most of them had become so rare that it was impossible to collect them from the wild. Nowadays almost all the plants are propagated by cuttings or sown from seed, and so after many years a collection has developed out of the original, individual specimens, and these have been spread around the various parks. In addition we have a small nursery where new species are tried out and sensitive wild flowers are propaged. This is also a demonstration garden for the public.
Overall we try to maintain variety in the parks and open spaces so that we keep a balance, and at the same time our maintenance costs are kept down, but if we are succesful, then visitors should not be aware of any economic constraints: they should just enjoy a beautiful, “natural” landscape.