Mien Ruys

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Mien Ruys
Wilhelmina Jacoba Ruys

(1904-02-14)14 February 1904
Died9 January 1999(1999-01-09) (aged 94)
Dedemsvaart, Netherlands
Yellow Garden (Dedemsvaart)
by Mien Ruys (1982)

Wilhelmina Jacoba Moussault-Ruys (14 February 1904 – 9 January 1999),[1] was a Dutch landscape and garden architect.[2] Her gardening legacy is maintained in the Dutch town of Dedemsvaart, which is home to the Tuinen Mien Ruys.[3] With people such as Piet Oudolf, she is considered a leader in the "New Perennial Movement."[4][5]


Mien Ruys briefly studied garden architecture in Berlin in the 1920s, and spent time in England as well (Tunbridge Wells);[6] her father was a friend of Gertrude Jekyll, from whom Ruys is supposed to have learned some things about colour.[7] During World War II she studied engineering in Delft, but then returned home to work and experiment at her father's company.[6] Ruys's father, Bonne Ruys, founded the Moerheim Nursery in 1888 specializing in perennials in the bogs near Dedemsvaart, near Zwolle, in the east of the Netherlands. Ruys's business quickly grew and in the first half of the twentieth century had become the most notable nursery in Europe for perennials. She was the younger sister of Anna Charlotte Ruys.

Beginning in 1924, Mien began experimenting, making small gardens of perennials on her father's land, and soon became as interested in the materials for building gardens as the plants in them. These experiments were the foundation for the Tuinen Mien Ruys and helped her become one of the most notable landscape and garden architects of the Netherlands.[1] Ruys also studied architecture with Marinus Jan Granpré Molière, a noted Dutch architect and landscape planner, and worked with architects such as Gerrit Rietveld,[8] a collaboration which is still celebrated in Bergeijk, where Rietveld designed a factory, Weverij de Ploeg, surrounded by a Ruys-designed park.[9]

Ruys became a household name in the Netherlands by publishing a number of books, the best-known of which is Het vaste plantenboek ("Book of perennials"). With her husband, Theo Moussault[1] (a former owner of the Amsterdam weekly De Groene Amsterdammer[8]), she started a quarterly magazine in 1954, Onze eigen tuin ("Our own garden"), which is still considered one of the most creative Dutch publications in this field.[1] The magazine is read in middle- and upper-class circles, and includes "Gardening lessons for suckers."[10] Ruys died in 1999.[11]

Style and influence[edit]

Ruys is highly respected; Trouw called her one of the top-10 most influential garden architects of the world. She is responsible for the widespread use in the Netherlands of old railroad ties and gravel tiles, and her style is characterized as "clear, direct, and barren."[8] Influenced by Japanese design and using rectangular spaces, water, bamboo, and wood, Ruys is credited with creating open and transparent spaces even in small gardens.[6]

Her use of railroad ties led to the concept of the bielzentuin (from "biels," the Dutch word for railroad tie): she is nicknamed "Bielzen Mien."[6] The first bielzentuin she made dates from 1956, in the garden of a residential house in Overveen built by Dutch architect Gerard Holt; the house is on the list of municipal monuments.[12]

Influential also was Ruys's use and propagation of plants grown from bulbs.[13] Her advice on how and where to plant the bulbs is cited even in the United States.[14]

Tuinen Mien Ruys[edit]

The Tuinen Mien Ruys opened in 1976, and contain 30 model gardens.[1] It is run by the Foundation Tuinen Mien Ruys, which began cooperating with the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed in 2001. As a result, three of the individual gardens received the status of Rijksmonument ("national monument").[1] In 2002, the Tuinen Mien Ruys made the news because of financial difficulties, to which it responded by expanding its activities.[8] The foundation also broke with the Moerheim Nursery to which it was still connected and built its own entrance; with the help of volunteers and donors it became financially solvent again in 2008.[15]

Notable projects[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Scholma, Anet (2006). "Versuchsgarten Mien Ruys in Dedemsvaart". In Erik A. de Jong, Brigitt Sigel. Der Garten - ein Ort des Wandels: Perspektiven für die Denkmalpflege. vdf Hochschulverlag. pp. 117–25. ISBN 978-3-7281-3033-4. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  2. ^ Wilson, Andrew (2002). Influential gardeners: the designers who shaped 20th-century garden style. Clarkson Potter. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-4000-4811-3.
  3. ^ Abbs, Barbara (2000). Gärten in den Niederlanden und Belgien: ein Reiseführer zu den schönsten Gartenanlagen. Birkhäuser. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-3-7643-6185-3.
  4. ^ "A book by Mien Ruys, mother of the New Perennial movement". The Intercontinental Gardener. 8 October 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
  5. ^ Carr, Douglas (27 April 2002). "It's time to grow Dutch; A new wave of gardeners have brought the old style back in vogue, finds Douglas Carr". The Herald. p. 10.
  6. ^ a b c d Huisman, Jaap (13 January 1999). "Modernist Mien Ruys deed meer dan bielzen leggen". de Volkskrant.
  7. ^ Jekyll, Gertrude; Martin Wood (2006). The unknown Gertrude Jekyll. Frances Lincoln. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-7112-2611-1.
  8. ^ a b c d Lange, Harry de (31 July 2002). "Tuinen van Mien Ruys bedreigd". Trouw.
  9. ^ "Bergeijks design in beeld". Eindhovens Dagblad. 8 October 2008.
  10. ^ Botman, Afra (7 March 1998). "Hype in tuinen en tuinbladen: In zijn outdoor-trui staat vader te hakselen". Trouw.
  11. ^ "Tuinarchitecte Mien Ruys overleden". Trouw. 12 January 1999.
  12. ^ "Straat: Lonbar Petrilaan" (PDF). Gemeentelijke Monumentenlijst. Bloemendaal. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
  13. ^ Munster, Karin van (23 November 1996). "Voor werkende vrouwen zijn verwilderingsbollen een zegen". Trouw.
  14. ^ "Bulb-planting tips help bypass some common pitfalls". The Modesto Bee. 24 November 1989. p. H1.
  15. ^ Dalen, Cor van (2 April 2008). "Tuinen Mien Ruys zijn uit problemen". De Stentor.
  16. ^ "Kunstwerken a tot z: Buurttafel - Mien Ruysplantsoen". Kunstwerken op straat. Stadsdeel Zeeburg, Amsterdam. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  17. ^ "Beroemde bomen verhuisd naar Batavia Stad". Hart van Nederland. 12 December 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2010.

External links[edit]