Description of the Gardens
Description of the Gardens
The Priona Gardens have been evoking since their conception in1978 by Henk Gerritsen and the late Anton Schlepers at the latter's parental home at Schuinesloot.


The families in the village of Schuinesloot all had nicknames. Because they were hardly flattery, Anton's father invented his own, namely Priona.

On entering the garden, you are immediately at its heart. An open space in front of the house (A) with three huge oak trees in it. The largest one is probably over 200 years old, and has served as a model for the logo of the Priona Gardens.
The space of the lawn, which is covered in spring by a sea of snowdrops, daisies and cuckoo-flowers, is interrupted by a group of topiared box (E). Unmistakably a group of chickens with eggs, strolling away from the neighbouring chicken run(D). Or is it? A closer examination shows headless chickens and disproportionally sized eggs.
In front of the barn (C) you may be lucky enough to discover the flowering stems of the ivy broomrape (Orobanche hederae) in summer.
                  You turn left, along the front of the house, to the Boulder Garden (1, 1978). The deciduous trees and conifers in this garden were all present before 1978, only the Corylopsis pauciflora has been planted by us. An ugly yellowish conifer has been clipped into the shape of a screw. Most of the erratic blocks, that have been dug up in the garden, have been assembled here. By now most of them have disappeared under a thick layer of leaf mould: the perfect environment for many shade-loving plants, most of which flower between March and June.
Behind the house is the Orpine Garden (2, 1979), named after the wild Orpine (Sedum telephium), which flowers in August (neither before, nor after) with tall (not flattened!) dark red umbels. The Dutch name for Orpine is hemelsleutel, meaning: key-to-heaven! Other plants that thrive in this difficult garden (shady, but sunny at the warmest hour of the day) are: Meconopsis cambrica, Geranium nodosum, wild Phlox (Phlox paniculata) and Thalictrum delavayi.
Along the back of the large oak you arrive at the Hochstaudenflur (3), 1981, altered in 1998). Hochstaudenflur is a German botanical expression, which summarizes in one word the communities of tall plants that grow in rough places in the mountains of Central Europe.
The soil in this garden is extremely fertile,because the latreens from the farm used to be emptied out here (!)  Surrounded by a jungle-like planting of  Japanse Knotweed (Fallopia japonica), bamboo and all-invasive Hop (Humulus lupulus) Bistort grows (Persicaria bistorta), Perennial Honesty (Lunaria rediviva),
On leaving the gloom of the woodland you find yourself in the dazzling light of the Butterfly Garden (5, 1983). Planted originally to attract butterflies, this garden has over the years developed into a kind of alpine meadow, which flowers abundantly between May and July. Meadow Rue, white Dame's Violet (Hesperis matronalis 'Alba'), Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium coeruleum), Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris), Geranium psilostemon, Thalictrum polygamum, Betony (Stachys officinalis) and Elecampane (Inula
Around the sidewalk café in the Water Garden (7, 1991) is a large pond with crystal-clear water, alive with underwater-plants during summer. Eye-catching is the Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides). Countless green frogs, salamanders, aquatic snails, dragonfly larvae and leeches abound in the pond. The edge of the pond is lined with Japanese Horsetail (Equisetum japonicum). Late in summer white Balsam (Impatiens gladulifera 'White Queen') is prominent. All visitors are allowed to collect seed from it..
The chicken topiary on the lawn
Right in front of the house is a small border with shade-loving plants, among them a collection of hellebores.
The Boulder Garden in May
Ranunculus aconitifolius
Ranunculus aconitifolius, Meadow Rue (Thalictrum aquilegiifolium) and Small Teasel (Dipsacus pilosus).                                                                                                                   The path continues to the Woodland (4), situated on an undulation of shifting sand, deposited here in some interglacial period. 25 Years of careful inaction have led the formerly scanty woodland to evolve into an Oak-Holly woodland, the climactic woodland endemic to the region, with a rich undergrowth of Holly, Alder Buckthorn, Bird Cherry, brambles, ferns and Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella). During the last few years the Common Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum) has established itself in the woodland.
Butterfly Garden
helenium) form a colourful whole. Later in summer Telekia speciosa, Marjoram (Origanum vulgare), Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) and Aster x frikartii 'Mönch' make sure that there is still something worthwhile for the butterflies, though they like other parts of the garden better by that time.
Beyond the Butterfly Garden you'll see to the left the Pot square and Pergola (6, 1987), where a collection of pot plants is exhibited. Wisteria grows over the pergola, so too the rambling rose "Bobbie James', climbing Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra scandens) and Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius). Under the pergola you find the entrance to the tearoom (B) and conveniences.
Frogs between Water Lilies and Water Soldier.
You then proceed along a fence covered with Akebia quinata, a vine and Apios americanum, the latter hardly visible until it flowers in September with pink, fragrant clusters of flowers, towards Behind the hedge (8, 1986). A cottage garden where everything is permitted, including a greenhouse,  weird volcano topiary, old-fashioned garden flowers and wild flowers, all combined together. This garden is being maintained by Pien van de Stadt. A striking plant in this garden is a prewar-cultivar of Marsh Mallow, Althaea 'Parkallee' with half-double, creamcoloured flowers. It reappeared in Eastern Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Over the fence grows Clematis viticella, the gate is always open.
On the other side of the hedge is the Long Border (9, 1988). A border with imposing perennials 35 metres long and 5,5 metres wide demanding little maintenance. Outstanding are the two giant specimens of Persicaria polymorpha, which  continue to flower from the end of May until the end of September. Other prominent plants include Veronicastrum virginicum 'Fascination', Eupatorium maculatum 'Album', Helianthus 'Lemon Queen', Campanula lactiflora, Cephalaria gigantea and in front large groups of the unfamiliar Succisella inflexa, a member of the Scabious-family bearing pale blue roundish flower-heads at the end of summer
Althaea 'Parkallee'  between Phloxes and Erigeron annuus in Behind the Hedge
A large cloud of Persicaria polymorpha in the Long Border. In front left Hemerocallis citrina, on the right side Thalictrum 'Elin' en Cephalaria gigantea
Opposite and parallel is a border planted with shrubs, which remains interesting during the entire summer. Conspicious are the Shrubby Horse-Chestnut (Aesculus parviflora), which flowers in the middle of summer, and two specimens of a peculiar tree that bears horrid spines on its trunk and has large, acorn-like leaves: Kalopanax septemlobus. Towards the end of this border is a concrete sculpture of a baby giant, made by Jan Dirk Neuteboom, that obviously devoured too many of the overhanging crab-apples.
Here you get to the Flower Meadow (10, 1988). Thanks to a mowing regime which has been carried on rigidly year after year, more and more flowers appear in this hay-meadow. Most species have established themselves spontaneously, like the omnipresent sorrel and the rosebay willow-herb, a number of species have been sown or planted out and are consolidating: Melancholy Thistle (Cirsium heterophyllum),  Caucasian Comfrey (Symphytum caucasicum), Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense) and the Rampion Bellflower
(Campanula rapunculus). In 2001, after several fruitless attempts to sow it, some hundred specimens of the Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus angustifolius) appeared. In March the meadow is crowded with wild Narcisses (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), which used to grow wild a long time ago in the neighbouring Reest-valley (Schuinesloot, or "Schuinsche Sloot", was the name of the source of the river Reest before the removal of peat in the 19th century). They disseminate freely! Through an opening in the yew hedge and under an arch overgrown with the rambling rose "Frances E. Lester' you reach Kaatje's Garden (11, 1989-90, altered in 2000). A green
Yellow Rattle in the Flower Meadow
garden, dedicated to Elisabeth ("Kaatje) de Lestrieux, with whom Anton cooperated in 1989 in the making of a book about green flowers. Though formal by layout, the garden is rather a satire on the formal garden, with its absurd yew-box topiary in the centre and the bizarre gazebo (1994) by Jan Dirk Neuteboom at the back. Simultaneously, it is a plantsman's garden where lots of rare plants and grasses thrive. The rarer plants prefer to disseminate in the gravel, which has replaced the lawn in 2000.
Kaatje's Garden
The sods have been used to construct a semi-circular grass-bench, which you pass by on your way to garden 12. Dozens of specimens of the male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) have established themselves spontaneously in the grass-bench.
In the All American Garden (12, 1994) wild plants from North America are grown. The garden is fantasy, Henk has never been to North America. Lupins and Blue-Star (Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia) flower in spring, the Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra 'Venusta Magnifica') in summer. Most species flower in autumn, including Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum 'Atropurpureum'), Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) and several Michaelmas Daisies. With its curved hedges this garden resembles hills, as they are schematically depicted in cartoons. One could imagine Lucky Luke shooting away in the distance!
The All American Garden in the beginning of September, from front to back Silphium spec., Eupatorium maculatum 'Atropurpureum en Verbesina alternifolia.
Through an opening in the hawthorn hedge you enter the Herb Garden (13, 1986, altered in 2001). The herbs in beds according to convention, in a whimsical shape, not according to convention(?) In any case, the herbs are irresistable to butterflies.
The adjoining Vegetable Garden (14, 1986) does not look like a vegetable garden at all, although the landscaping is traditional: a rose overlaid by a cross. Yet most of the plants in it are vegetables, some gone to seed: lots of Parsnip, in flower in June with greenish-yellow umbels, Salsify, Leek, Chicory, Cabbage, Raddish, Carrot, Asparagus and Parsley.
Verbascum and seeding Angelica in front of a sea of parsnip in the Vegetable garden
The rose is planted with ornamentals, mainly Columbines and Allium hollandicum. The vegetable garden is traditionally guarded by a scarecrow: La Priona, first made by Anton in 1988 and after his death redressed by several artists. The present version, an iron lady, was made by Arnica Bosma.
Next to it is the Poppy Garden (15, 1986), which is dug over in October every year, to allow poppies and Corn Cockle (Agrostemma githago) to germinate. When their flowers are over by the end of June an annual grass, Setaria viridis, fills the space ressembling a cornfield.
Further up are the Rock Garden and the Grass Garden (16, 1996). The Rock Garden, a pyramid of bricks and moonstone, is not planted with typical rock garden plants, but with somewhat larger, drought-loving plants. Dominating are Cypress Spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias), Melica ciliata, Lavender and Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber). The pale yellow, Chilean Oenothera stricta var. sulphurea is very happy in the granite pavement at the foot of the "rock".
After the tranquil Grass Garden, where Mistletoe grows on an Amelanchier, you walk along a small border dominated by the impressive Caucasian Comfrey (Symphytum caucasicum) towards the Chic Garden (17, 1983). A traditional border backed by a privet hedge and "real" borderplants within: always tidy and easy to maintain.
The most striking and the rarest plants on view in the garden are for sale in Michel Vleugels small nursery next to it.
The Chic Garden. At the back Macleaya cordata, in front f.l.t.r  Kalimeris incisa 'Alba', Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail', Daucus carota en Monarda 'Scorpion'.
All American Garden - Click to enlarge !
Kaatje's  Garden - Click to enlarge !
Althaea 'Parkallee' - Click to enlarge !
Butterfly Garden-Click to enlarge!
Boulder garden-click to enlarge!
Ranunculus aconitifolius-Click to enlarge
Pond - Click to enlarge !
Long Border - Click to enlarge !
Yellow Rattle - Click to enlarge !
Vegetable Garden - Click to enlarge !
Chic Garden - Click to enlarge !
Chicken topiary-Click to enlarge