Our writing is a labour of love, a way to share the fascinating world of horticulture with others through blogs, articles and ebooks.

The Virens blog is all about the best in modern gardening culture. Presented free of charge, as a way to build and foster gardening magic both in Vancouver, Canada, and further afield.

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Sara-Jane & Alica at Virens Studio

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Green Inspiration: Amazing Street Gardening, Amsterdam Style

Feb 17, 2020

Amsterdam street gardens

I've seen lots of great Guerrilla Gardening projects over the years. From an army of brightly planted tree wells spotted in New York, to the Arbutus Greenway right here in Vancouver, Canada and they have always brought a smile to my face. The thought of people taking over an abandoned or underused plot of land and filling it with life just makes me happy on the most basic level. But I have to say, I always thought of them as a space that was purposely planted and maintained as a garden would be. Until that is, I visited Amsterdam last summer.

Green-hearted City

Here I saw not only the magnificent collections of Hortus Amsterdam and a frankly staggering array of naturalistic public parks and beds (Piet Oudolf's Vlinderhof is well worth the journey!) but plants, growing in every available space throughout out the city. I mean every crack in the sidewalk, every little nook was growing. Hollyhocks, lavender and santolina, buddleia, ivy and even wisteria was sprouting from the smallest bits of soil, covering brick facades and stretching along well worn cobbles. It blew my mind and it also stuck with me long after my visit.

green streets
canal gardens

A Way of Life

Plants are such a huge part of the Netherlander culture that they are simply included in every aspect of daily life, by everyone, in the smallest of ways. A few stems of Angelica fill an oversize glass vase in a cafe window, a messy bouquet tucked into a bicycle basket or an old plastic pail repurposed into a doorway planter, they are literally everywhere in the cityscape. It really made me consider how plants could fit into my life in a more natural way. I had always carefully chosen plants to fill the spaces that I had prepared for them, but I felt a paradigm shift after this visit. We really don't need to be so precious about tending plants, they are stronger than we'd like to think. A few thoughtful seeds in a forgotten corner is all it takes to green up the concrete.

cafe flowers, Amsterdam
hollhocks amsterdam

Gardening Inspiration

Back in 2020, my partner Alicia and I were inspired to go Guerrilla and make some seed bombs for a pop up plant sale. We chose three unique seed blends from West Coast Seeds (all suitable to Vancouver's conditions and non-invasive) and mixed up some bombs. If you too choose to take some garden inspiration, Amsterdam style, they are super simple to put together. Here's a sample of what we offered..

Tall Blend - Hollyhock, Sunflower (lemon queen), Lupins and Gaura


Xeriscape Blend - Poppy (mission bells), Yarrow (white), Nigella (persian jewels)


Pollinator Blend - Yarrow (white), Milkweed, 5 spot (Nemophilia) and Purple Tansy (Phacelia)

seedbombs, simple leaf design


So I just wanted to say, thanks Amsterdam, from now on our city will be a little more alive because of you!


Sara-Jane & Alicia from Virens Studio


Virens is a studio located in Vancouver, Canada that specializes in ecological planting design, urban greening consultation and hort writing.   Please get in touch so that we can help you bring some green into your city! and don't forget to follow us @virensstudio on Instagram.

© Virens Studio 2022 (all photos are used for demonstration purposes and do not necessarily belong to us.)

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