Ton ter Linden is famous for his garden-making in Holland, and for his art - mostly still-lifes. Time spent weeding or planting is as important to him as his painting, it’s a kind of partnership with time spent at the easel.
I’m glad to be here at last. I first came across his garden through photographs taken in the mid 1990s by Marijke Heuff, an incredibly gifted Dutch photographer, who at the time was busy with gardens by Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen - indeed her ability to capture the misty faded glory feel of Henk’s Priona Garden helped launched ‘The New Perennial’ look. We used several pictures of his garden in eastern Holland for my book The New Perennial Garden. But I never got round to visiting. He moved with his partner Geert to South Limburg, that salient of Dutchness that shoves itself down between Belgium and Germany in an attempt to plant the flag on a decent hill or two. But it turned out not to be so restuful so they came up here – to the empty fields of Friesland.
I’d come with Dani Coray (whose wonderful really plantygarden so deservedly won a gold at Tatton Park recently) and a friend, Zoe Weston. Clutching our googlemap printout and a very basic £4 Dutch satnav app on my iPhone we bumped down concrete slab roads, where every slab was pointing in a different direction. It’s remote, but it sounds like Ton and Geert get lots of visitors. They run a studio, with work by other artists as well as Ton’s work. Some wonderful sculpture in the garden too.
Ton doesn’t speak English, so wir sprechen ein Bisschen auf Deutsch, but Geert is used to speaking for Ton, and he soon got back to his studio. Geert explained that the garden may look carefree but it involves a lot of emotional as well as physical effort – and that the sound of Ton shouting and swearing as he gardened was not uncommon. I know the feeling. I also knew almost before I waded out into it, that it was my kind of garden. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Ton ter Linden's website is here.
We went to lots of other good gardens and nurseries on the trip too... you can read about them on Gardening Gone Wild.