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The infinity gardens

“Her investigation focuses on the political-social side of flowers, i.e. the tulip. The concept of the infinite garden derives from the realisation that plants, like people, are migrants. The large-scale assimilation of tulips in rectilinear Mondrianeske fields has made us forget the original tulip. With her infinite tulip project she attempts to reintroduce the idea of boundlessness to the Netherlands. If the project succeeds, wild tulips could appear suddenly all across the Netherlands.”

Peter Sonderen, curator The Non Urban Garden: Tuinen van de 21st eeuw

At the end of November 2013 Birthe Leemeijer, together with dozens of volunteers from Diepenheim, began laying her infinite garden. 70,000 wild tulip bulbs were scattered across the landscape in clouds and elongated strips. The white and orange bulbs instantly coloured the landscape. The volunteers pushed them into the ground wherever they landed in and around Diepenheim – a vegetable garden, an orchard, the Nijenhuis and Westerflier estates, at the entrance to the Warmelo castle, a graveyard, in the art club’s garden. The artist chose botanical tulip bulbs that blossom in different periods and can grow in the wild. Tulips appeared randomly in various places across the landscape. Freed from the rigid grid of the tulip fields, feral tulips forged their own paths, searching for a spot where they felt most at home. It was in and around old estates like the ones in Diepenheim where the bulbous plants were introduced.

The Non Urban Graden, gardens of the 21th century. In opdracht van de Kunstvereniging Diepenheim.

Curators: Joop Hoogeveen en Peter Sonderen.

Advise: Jacqueline van der Kloet

Images: C Eric Breed,

Thanks to: 

Wieke teselink, Michiel van der Kaaij, Gerry Voskamp, Rob baas,Wim Lemmers, Jacques de Groot, Sander Stoepker, Marlies Hak and all volunteers


For her research Birthe sought out tulip hunters like Wim Lemmers, a renowned expert of bulbous plants who has lead several expeditions to places like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan to find new sorts. A recently discovered tulip in Kazakhstan was named after him: the Tulipa lemmersii. Birthe based her design on the photographs Lemmers took during his journeys with his colleagues Eric Breed, Jacques de Groot and others.

Through them, Birthe learned about the existence of the Neo-Tulipae. These 18th century tulips became feral through so-called garden escapes and managed to survive in the wild. In the wild it is extremely difficult to distinguish a wild tulip (Tulipa) from a feral tulip (Neo-Tulipa). They showed her images of feral tulips in Norway supplied by a Norwegian colleague.


Tulipa turkestanica foto Jacques de Groot

Tulipa clusiana foto (c) Eddy van Wessel

Tulipa schrenkii


Tulipa montana Elburz Iran


Nijenhuis / foto Marianne Korthorst

Oude bergaafsplaats Odammerweg

Warmelo foto Henk Mentink

Entree Odammerweg

The Kunstvereniging Diepenheim (Diepenheim Art Association) has for years shown a keen interest in gardens. This interest led to the publication of The Non Urban Garden. Tuinen van de 21st eeuw (The Non Urban Garden. Gardens of the 21st century). The art association asked a number of artists the questions: What is your vision of the 21st century garden? And would you be willing to design one? 



The book of the same title, published at the time of the project, was edited by Peter Sonderen (art theory lecturer at ArtEZ), Marlies van Hak (Honours Programma coordinator, ArtEZ) et al. The book offers insight into the artists’ investigation. The book also includes visions of non urban garden by many experts, including: landscape architect Jorrit Noordhuizen, garden designer Piet Oudolf, philosopher Ann Meskens, ARTIS professor Erik de Jong and landscape architect Saskia de Wit. Peter Sonderen outlines the process of artistic investigation.

The Non Urban Garden. Tuinen van de 21st eeuw


Edited by: Peter Sonderen, Joop Hoogeveen, Marlies van HakMet

Contributions by: Birthe Leemeijer, Jeroen Kooijmans, Edward Clydesdale Thomson, Doris Denekamp & Jimini Hignett, Jorrit Noordhuizen, Erik A. de Jong, Piet Oudolf, Ann Meskens, Saskia de Wit, Martien Frijns, Peter Sonderen, Joop Hoogeveen, Marlies van Hakisbn: 978907260337


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