Tandem fit surculus arbor

Maurits van Oranje;

Vrije vertaling: Elk twijgje wordt een boom.

Tandem fit surculus arbor


Thank you for visiting the website of the Head Gardeners’ Guild.
The Guild is an association for professional, qualified head gardeners who aim to achieve the highest level of their craftsmanship and, above all, share the knowledge that is required to reach this.

What is a head gardener?

Monumental historical greenery is an important part of the Dutch cultural landscape. It includes the parks and gardens of castles, country estates and monasteries. The extraordinary quality of these sites is safeguarded by the head gardener.

The profession of head gardener dates back centuries. In former times the head gardener managed a large gardening crew. These days much work is contracted to outside parties as a full crew has become too expensive. At many sites, the head gardener works with volunteers. The head gardener is a professional who aims to achieve the highest level of perfection. He safeguards the historical design of a park or garden and ensures its continuous management. The head gardener is responsible for daily management and liaises with the owner, staff, volunteers and the public.
The owner may be a private person, as half of the 500+ protected historical estates remain in private hands. The other half can be the property of a governmental organization such as Staatsbosbeheer (state forestry), provincial Landschap (landscape management), a non-profit organization such as Natuurmonumenten or a private foundation.
The maintenance of historical gardens and parks is a craft which combines a love for and knowledge of the world of green. It is part of our horticulture.

The Head Gardeners’ Guild association

The basic idea from which the Head Gardeners’ Guild association was founded came from the garden philosopher Rob Leopold (†2005) of the foundation Perennial Perspectives. The 1990s saw the start of an exchange of knowledge among the head gardeners and gardeners of the estates Twickel, Het Loo, Het Weldam and Het Warmelo, which did not go unnoticed by Leopold. He argued for a comprehensive garden culture that combines landscape architecture, horticulture and ecology. He believed that the divide between art and craftsmanship in gardening and landscape architecture should be removed and the art of gardening should be revalued. For this revaluation of the neglected horticultural perspective, the exchange of knowledge amongst colleagues is essential.

This is why twice a year the Head Gardeners’ Guild organises excursions to members’ gardens or estates, as well as international study trips with lectures and/or specialistic guided tours. The connections made during those trips provide the members with a great deal of knowledge and an lively exchange of seeds, bulbs, tubers and grafting material. This ‘cross-pollination’ encourages the head gardeners in their aim for quality and reinforces the connections between Guild members.

The Guild has recently come into contact with colleages from abroad, such as Russia. Russian estates have requested the advice of Dutch head gardeners on restoration and renovation projects. Various members of the Head Gardeners’ Guild are actively involved with schools and courses such as the natural heritage class at the HAS university of applied sciences in ‘s Hertogenbosch.



Articles of Association

The Head Gardeners’ Guild is an association with full legal capacity which was established on June 4th, 2003 in Breukelen.

The Guild’s Magazine

De Tuinbaas is the Head Gardeners’ Guild’s quarterly magazine. It first appeared in 2001 and contains articles on topics such as specific elements in gardens and parks (e.g. greenhouses and conservatories/orangeries) and vegetation (e.g. fruit trees and how to prune them). It also presents reports of visits to national and international parks of interest, book reviews and notes on professional literature.


The magazine is published in Dutch only. If you are interested in the magazine or a specific topic but cannot read Dutch, please contact us.




The book De Tuinbaas en zijn buitenplaats. Werken in historisch groen by Gertrudis A.M. Offenberg, architectural historian and science journalist, presents Dutch gardeners and the diverse aspects of their historic gardens. The book includes gorgeous photographs by head gardener Johan van Galen. Published by Uitgeverij Waanders in Zwolle (ISBN 978 90 400 7702 9), this book is available only in Dutch.


Member of the Guild is restricted. The Guild’s board votes yes or no on the admission of an applicant. A committee, consisting of one board member and one regular member, advises the board on this matter after having met with the applicant. 

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