Dutch Master–Jacqueline van der Kloet

I first learned about Jacqueline van der Kloet, a Dutch designer celebrated for her innovative use of bulbs, two years ago when planning a garden tour to the Netherlands and Belgium. Last month, when that tour finally came to fruition, it was Jacqueline’s Tea Garden in Weesp, a small town near Amsterdam, which proved to be the great favorite of nearly everyone.


The Tea Garden showcases naturalistic compositions of herbaceous plants among trees and shrubs.

The garden, which features naturalistic compositions of bulbs and other perennials, is planted among a framework of trees and shrubs. Harmonizing these herbaceous plants can be tricky, however, so the designer uses the space to experiment with combinations of color, texture, habit, and bloom time, perfecting the balance, rhythm, and “painterly effect” she is known for.

Arriving in Weesp, we were awed by the beauty and charm of surrounding grasslands, rivers, and the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, as well as the town’s historic center. Handsome buildings dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth century, three classic windmills, and pristine waterways and roads make this area a lovely stop for tourists.


Popular with tourists, Weesp is crisscrossed by rivers and the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal.

Just steps from the historic district and tucked behind a fortified bastion built in 1674, the Tea Garden was found at the end of a short lane. There, cradled between an old barn remodeled into offices and a private residence, both painted a striking blue-green, the garden sparkled in the morning light.

Evergreen hedges and winding pathways establish a circular flow around the garden. Some of the woody plants grow in their natural form, but many are clipped. A large doublefile viburnum is trained into a small tree and many shrubs are shaped into fanciful forms, such as spirals, domes, and animals, including a peacock and teddy bear.


Some shrubs are clipped into fanciful forms and animal shapes.

What truly distinguishes the garden, however, is the blend of perennials intertwined in loose, Impressionistic swaths, in a way that appears as if the flowers have sprung up on their own.


The cool blue and purple throughout the garden is accented here with sharp yellow and orange.

Among the tulips, alliums, columbine, geums, poppies, lupins, and lacy umbels, the daffodils and hellebores of yesterday and the lilies and coneflowers of tomorrow were evident.  Foliage plants, such as hostas, ferns, and ornamental grasses, added layers of texture, while the smooth curves of pathways were intentionally (and charmingly) disrupted by the undulating forms of clipped box and spreading perennials.

The color scheme was restricted, but not static. Cool blue and purple flowed throughout the garden, accented with soft pink and salmon in some areas and bold chartreuse and orange in others. One of the most striking combinations featured blue cranesbill geraniums punctuated with golden Alexander (Smyrnium perfoliatum) and white, goblet-shaped tulips.


White, goblet-shaped tulips stand tall above a mix of blue cranesbill geranium, golden Alexander (Smyrnium perfoliatum), and other herbaceous plants.

Interestingly, as a teenager, Jacqueline hoped to attend art school, but was dissuaded by parents who worried about her financial security. By chance, she met an old school friend training in landscape architecture and opted for a career in design, studying in Boskoop and Brussels and then designing public spaces with a firm before opening her own business with two colleagues in the 1980s and focusing on residential design.

We saw more of Jacqueline’s work at Keukenhof Gardens, possibly the world’s most overwhelming spring landscape with more than seven million tulips, daffodils, and other bulbs over 32 hectares.  In the United States, she has designed gardens for the New York Botanical Gardens and the Colorblends House and Spring Garden in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and worked in conjunction with Piet Ouldolf on various projects, including Battery Park in New York and the Lurie Garden in Chicago.


Last look–a happy harmony of allium, columbine, and cranesbill geranium.

For more inspiration and information, take the opportunity to visit Jacqueline’s website found here.

24 thoughts on “Dutch Master–Jacqueline van der Kloet

  1. Suellen Brazil

    I always love to read your writings and see the great pictures you share. Love it.


    Sent from my iPhone

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Christina–It was the first trip outside my comfort zone of England, Italy and France, but it has encourage me to look further afield. Our world is an amazing place.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Cathy–I agree! Spring is the best season for flowers in my garden and the Tea Garden opened my eyes to new possibilities. Plus, I have to admit, I like the equal emphasis on ornamental tress and shrubs. Prairie gardens, which can be high maintenance, are often impractical for the home garden.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Libby–Funny story…several of the group went early for extra time in Amsterdam and they all emailed warning the weather was cold and wet. Then, as soon as “the group” arrived, the sun came out and the temperatures jumped up into the 70s, but we had all packed sweaters, scarves, and gloves! It was a beautiful 10 days, then the day we flew home it turned cold and rainy again. So lucky!

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Pam–It was great, sorry you missed it. It’s been particularly hard to write this spring…I’ve been overwhelmed with work and trying to spend spare minutes in the garden whenever I can.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Jessica–Wish I had taken even more close up photos of the planting. We missed all of the early bulbs and most of the tulips, but it was still spectacular.

  2. germac4

    Thank you for giving us another idea to add to our holiday list! The garden looks delightful, & I too like the mix of trees, shrubs & spring flowers. It’s a treat to follow a spring garden tour as we head into winter here in Australia.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Geraldine–Spring, the only really pretty season in my garden, is too brief here as summer comes on much too quickly. We have wonderful (usually mild) winters and all things considered, it’s my favorite season of the year. Hope you enjoy yours!

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Brenda–Me too…the garden is a “just right” mix of formal/informal, hard/soft, plant types, and other elements…all so carefully planned and cared for.

  3. Beth @ PlantPostings

    That’s lovely, Marian. The topiaries are fun, and I agree about the impressionistic beauty of the perennials. I’ve tried that effect at times, but never quite accomplished it–or it didn’t last. 😉


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