JARS v62n4 - Arboretum Notoarestoen

Arboretum Notoarestoen
Jetske Knol
The Netherlands

The Arboretum Notoarestoen (the notary's garden), in Northeastern Holland, is a remarkable little park amidst wide Dutch horizons and near the windswept Nort Sea coast. This botanic garden harbours an enticing collection of plants which is unique in its kind in Europe: there are 400 exotic species of trees and 600 different rhododendrons, many of which were grown by American nurseries such as Dexter's and Consolini's.

Sequoiadendron giganteum Betula nigra
Sequoiadendron giganteum , originating
from the Sierra Nevada, California.
Photo courtesy of the Arboretum Notoarestoen
Betula nigra
Photo courtesy of the Arboretum Notoarestoen

The 5-acre garden was the life's work of the Eenrum village notary Smit. He aimed at showing that exotic trees could thrive on the tough clay of the northern Dutch province of Groningen. The present collection is proof of his success, with the North American Sequoia sempervirens , Sequoiadendron giganteum and Taxodium distichum , and hundreds of rhododendron species and varieties. In the months of April and May their flowers turn the garden into a blaze of colors.

The Arboretum Notoarestoen
The Arboretum Notoarestoen.
Photo courtesy of the Arboretum Notoarestoen

Remarkable Rhododendron Species
The Groningen soil has produced a striking feature in this garden: the abundant foliage of the large-leaf varieties, such as Rhododendron sutchuenense with its 10- to 12-inch leaves, and other large-leaf species from the Himalayas add their splendor to the Notoarestoen. Over twenty Rhododendron fortunei hybrids by the American C. Dexter adorn this garden and infuse it with the distinct scent of their flowers. Mr. Smit planted a number of one of his favorites, the intensely red flowered Rhododendron 'Taurus', by Dr. Frank D. Mossman, Vancouver, Wash. U.S.A.
The stunning rhododendron 'General D. Eisenhower' with its 33-foot diameter never ceases to impress the visitor, as do the Rothschild hybrid Rhododendron 'Inamorata', full of creamy yellow flowers with red spots in the throat and a full grown Rhododendron 'Polar Bear' spreading a delicious fragrance with its enormous flowers.

R. 'Golden Witt'
Rhododendron 'Golden Witt' flowering in May.
Photo courtesy of the Arboretum Notoarestoen
Rhododendron thomsonii Rhododendron argyrophyllum ssp. argyrophyllum
Rhododendron thomsonii flowering in May.
Photo courtesy of the Arboretum Notoarestoen
Rhododendron argyrophyllum ssp. argyrophyllum
Photo courtesy of the Arboretum Notoarestoen
Rhododendron cinnabarinum ssp. cinnabarinum R. 'Taurus'
Rhododendron cinnabarinum ssp. cinnabarinum flowering in May.
Photo courtesy of the Arboretum Notoarestoen
Information plaques highlight the specific qualities of the
exotic plants, such as Rhododendron 'Taurus'.
Photo courtesy of the Arboretum Notoarestoen

All rhododendron species have been meticulously made accessible in one database by the notary's son, J.S. Smit, a civil engineer by profession. The Balfour system as it is used in H.H. Davidian's standard work has been chosen as the basis for rhododendron nomenclature. The database incorporates a garden plan indicating the exact position of each individual plant.

Magnolia tripetala flower
Magnolia tripetala originating from the USA.
Photo courtesy of the Arboretum Notoarestoen

New Horizons for the Notoarestoen
Mr. Smit started planting his arboretum in 1968. Initially a barren field, the place grew into an enchanting little park on the edge of the village with an exquisite collection of exotic plants. In the seventies and eighties of the last century it was a project of national importance. In 2002, though, when Mr Smit died, it bore the marks of years of severe neglect.
With financial support of local authorities and a number of charities and funds for regional activation the garden was reopened last year. It is now up to the newly started foundation Stichting Arboretum Notoarstoen Eenrum to guarantee the durability of last year's great success.
The garden is situated on the Ernstheemsterpad in Eenrum, Groningen. It is open daily without charge. For further information or possibilities for financial support please visit www.arboretumeenrum.nl

I am grateful to Jan Hink, the president of the Arboretum for his help in translating my text into English.

Mrs. Knol is the wife of the notary's son, J.S. Smit. Mr. Smit is the only child of the notary. Jetske Knol and J.S. Smit have together devoted their efforts to preserve the Arboretum for the future. They also are the initiators of the Stichting Arboretum Notoarstoen Eenrum.