Gemeente Haarlemmermeer Workshops



This afternoon was the Groene Loper Festival in Hoofddorp. It was a great success with green groups and businesses showcasing what they can offer to increase sustainability in the area.  We had a great time talking to local people at our stand,  taking some on guided herb walks to the local orchards and signing many up to become green ambassadors in their home towns and villages.


The free River of Herbs workshops in Hoofddorp will be held on two dates in October and November 2016. They will connect locals who are itching to plant edible and medicinal plants in public spaces. They will teach which areas are suitable for herb planting,  which plants to use,  how, when and why to liaise with the local council,  how to motivate your neighbours and how to get funding and free plants. Sessions will be in Dutch and we can’t wait to get started!


We can take just a few more sign ups for the workshops and are specifically seeking people from across Gemeente Haarlemmermeer. 17 super enthusiastic people signed up from Hoofddorp, Badhoevendorp, Heemstede, Nieuwe Vennep and Lisserbroek. So if you live in another Gemeente Haarlemmermeer dorp and want to join the group – please jump in – we need you!


Email for more information.



Posted in Course, River Bridge Course, Workshops

Help the River of Herbs to Flow!


This autumn we are planning workshops in Gemeente Haarlemmermeer and the Betondorp – Watergraafsmeer – Linneausstraat area of Amsterdam Oost. Look out for a few of us at the Groene loper Festival in Hoofddorp on Sunday 26th June and also at PopInn Park on the Middenweg in September.

The autumn workshops are for people who are keen to make their neighborhoods greener and healthier by planting herbs in disused spaces.

The River Bridge workshops provide the skills, knowledge and confidence to organize and lead street gardening teams, events and gatherings so that more and more herbs grow in our towns and cities!

You will learn about:

  • suitable herb garden locations
  • getting permission and financial support
  • wildlife and people friendly plants
  • how to organise street gardening
  • low cost sustainable gardening methods
  • and much more.

If you would like to know more, please make contact. We want to train a few people from each neighborhood so that by spring 2017 you are up and running, helping create beautiful and useful rivers of herbs in your area.

If you are keen to lead others and to make your area more green, healthy and community centered, we would love to hear from you!

Please note that you don’t need to be an expert gardener to join these workshops. Enthusiasm and determination to make a difference are what we are looking for!


Posted in River Bridge Course

ROH Wildlife Gardening Course – Part 2

Session 2 of the River of Herbs wildlife gardening course was held today at our Orchards in Park Frankendael.

Hornbeam and parterre garden frankendael orchards

Wildlife needs

As with the first session, the emphasis was on seeking ways to help wildlife which may find their way into your garden, whether that is a window box, tiny balcony, cluster of pavement plant pots or a larger space. Wildlife needs shelter, food and water to do well. Each creature has a specific set of needs and preferences and it is impossible to satisfy them all in a simple garden. What we can do is improve our outdoor spaces to help more wildlife to do well, if they find their way into them.

Orchard / Woodland / Park Location

Photo credit - Ioana cristina musat

Photo credit – Ioana cristina musat

River of Herbs Orchards are surrounded by dense Hornbeam hedges and they surround a well maintained parterre garden behind a 17th century country house, which sits in one corner of a city park. Beyond the formal garden is a sizeable woodland which is lightly managed. he whole area is wrapped around by a more traditional park complete with massive low cut lawns and waterways. RoH orchards themselves are full of fruit trees, ranging from 5 – 70+ years old with a thick ground layer of wild plants. These are interspersed with edible and medicinal herbs which have been added by the project volunteers over the past two years. Each of the four orchards has a different character, caused mainly by differences in available light. two have huge overhanging Sycamore trees, one is half shaded by an old yew tree and the fourth is home to an old Japanese cherry which lost a massive limb two years ago, creating more light. the ground cover in each has common elements and many differences. For instance, Stinging nettle is the dominant plant in one orchard, woodland geranium being dominant in another and yet cleavers, ground ivy and yellow deadnettle grow in both. A path has been created in each orchard, to keep foot traffic on the majority of the soil to a minimum. Below, the photo (from several years ago) shows the orchards shadowed by woodland on all sides.

Photo credit - Peter Elenbaas

Photo credit – Peter Elenbaas

Surveying the orchards

Simple plant surveys were conducted when we adopted these patches of land 2014 but no animal surveys to date. Surveys of gardens are clearly not essential but they important if you need to show how things have changed, probably as a result of your actions. We have good photo records of the changes but no written data so today we did a little surveying. We began the session with a mindful walk around the orchards followed by a wildlife survey. Animals noted were feeding, travelling, singing, buzzing, collecting and watching. Some of the creatures sighted were;

  • Great tits
  • Butterflies
  • Shield bugs
  • Blackbirds
  • Song thrush
  • Robins
  • Bumblebees
  • Honeybees
  • Snails
  • Woodlice
  • Woodpecker
  • molehills

Snail on stem

If you like the idea of surveying, several wildlife organisations actively encourage surveys at certain points of the year. Here are a few examples…

Bumblebee conservation trust (UK)

Naturalis (NL) Bijenradar


De vlinder stichting (NL) Butterflies and Dragonflies


  • If you know of more that I could add to this list, please let me know. riverofherbs(at)


Food, Shelter and Water

We then considered the current orchard availability of water, shelter and food for various creatures. Some food plants came to mind and were added to a wish list. Woodland canopies have a massive surface area and although too high for us to inspect, it is clear that they are host to enormous wildlife populations. Locations for birds to dig out insects from old wood are present in some orchards but not in all of them. So this could be improved by creating more log-piles. Water is glaringly absence within the orchards although the land is actually a sort of island, surrounded by a canal. Shelter is present in some ways but more can be offered. So we set about improving these aspects during the session. We created…

Bumblebee drinking station

Bumblebee drinking station

  • Bumblebee drinking stations
  • Plant cover for some existing pruned branch piles
  • Beginnings of a wetland area
  • Bug holes in logs with a drill
  • Buried bumblebee nest teapot
  • Plant list to help provide year-round nectar

Some wildlife friendly plants for the woodland floor (I have excluded plants toxic to humans) – 

  • Bugbane
  • Bugle
  • Burdocks


  • Woodland geranium / cranesbills
  • Dead-nettles
  • Ferns (only some are edible and at certains times of life cycle).
  • Lungworts
  • Primrose
  • Stinging nettle
  • violets
  • Wild strawberry
  • Wood forget-me-not (flowers edible)
  • Woodland grasses
  • Wood sage (Teucrium scorodonia)


We also looked briefly at –

  • Growing trees from seed
  • Green roofs
  • Plant pot gardens




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Posted in wildlife gardening