During the 17th-century, the city we refer to today as The Hague (or Den Haag) was officially named, ‘s-Gravenhage. The translation, “the counts’ hedge“, alluded to the origins of the city which grew up around the country estate of Count Floris back in the 13th century. It was used when the count wanted to go hunting in the surrounding countryside.
Many monumental trees are located in the areas around the Binnenhof, where the original estate stood. According to recent data, the most common is the chestnut tree. It was imported around the 16th century from Turkey. Some of these trees have been infected during the past decade by a condition referred to as “chestnut bleeding disorder“, and have needed to be cut down. But a young healthy chestnut tree has always been planted in its place.
Autumn is a great time to admire these monumental trees here in The Hague as their leaves turn color. This can be done along a historical walking route which is approximately 5km long. The route starts at the Lange Voorhout (which literally translates to “before the woods” – this is where the Haagse Bos, or “The Hague woods” used to begin). At the Lange Vijverberg and the Hofvijver, you will find 4 white horse chestnut trees, 21 of the red horse variety and 77 Dutch linde trees. The walking route continues to the Koekamp, which is also adorned with chestnut trees and a big linde and continues through the Schelpkade, Javastraat, Nassaulaan, Sophialaan and arrives at Plein 1813 where you can admire more than 100 year-old chestnuts.
You can also take in autumn’s magnificent colors at 17 different parks and recreational areas in and around The Hague. For example, Haagse Bos, Scheveningse Bosjes, Landgoed Oosterbeek (a small but beautiful park!) and Landgoed Clingendael are all perfect for a lovely autumn stroll. The Japanese Garden (in the park Clingendael area), reopens its doors to the public for 2 weeks from 13-26 October 2014 (10:00-16:00). Here you can admire the colours of Japanese maples, mosses and the anemones in bloom.
If you would like to discover the depth of variety which exists among trees in the City of Peace & Justice, I recommend the book Discovering The Hague’s Trees, Pieter van Mourik and Gerard van der Veen, which contains 8 different walking/cycling routes through different parts of The Hague such as the Sand Ridge, Haagse Beek, Scheveningen Dunes and Eastern Polders.
You’ll feel like you’ve traveled quite a bit with an autumn stroll through The Hague’s Zuiderpark. There you will come upon a section which contains tree varieties from North America, Asia, Japan, Himalaya, China, and both Southern and Northern Europe.
The “Tree Museum” at Wateringse Veld has 400 different species and varieties of trees. This museum is a project of artist Herman de Vries who wanted to take trees out of their anonymity.
“Trees and The Hague need each other like a heart needs a beat. You only have to look at the city’s history to know that this has always been the case. In 1539, the Emperor Charles V ordered four rows of lime trees to be planted along the Lange Voorhout, to enable ladies to go for a leisurely strol under a leafy canopy and market traders to display their wares in the shade.” (Discovering The Hague’s Trees, Pieter van Mourik and Gerard van der Veen, p.4)