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The Hortus botanicus Leiden will be highlighting the plants that made the Atlantic crossing in the exhibition From Columbus to the Mayflower: seeds over the sea, from 9 April to 26 November 2020.

From Columbus to Mayflower: seeds over the sea. Exhibition from 9 April to 26 November 2020
From Columbus to Mayflower: seeds over the sea. Exhibition from 9 April to 26 November 2020
From Columbus to Mayflower: seeds over the sea. Exhibition from 9 April to 26 November 2020
From Columbus to Mayflower: seeds over the sea. Exhibition from 9 April to 26 November 2020

In 2020 it will be 400 years since the voyage of the Mayflower, which sailed to America with a group of English separatists known as the ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ on board. Before the Pilgrim Fathers made the crossing and founded the Plymouth Colony in 1620, they lived and worked in Leiden, free of persecution for their faith by the English crown.

Four hundred years after this voyage, America, England, the Native Nations and the Netherlands will be cooperating in organizing commemorative activities. Not only the story of the Pilgrim Fathers will be spotlighted, but also the cultures and places with which they came into contact. The city of Leiden will join in with the international commemoration via the Leiden 400 theme, including a programme of events covering culture, science, education, heritage, heritage-tourism and society.

The Hortus botanicus Leiden will be highlighting the plants that made the Atlantic crossing in the exhibition From Columbus to the Mayflower: seeds over the sea, from 9 April to 26 November 2020. The herbarium compiled by the Flemish botanist Rembert Dodoens (1517-1585) will be used as a guide; the Pilgrim Fathers brought a copy of this book with them on their crossing and it already included a number of plants from the 'New World' such as maize, tomato, tobacco, pumpkin and the sunflower.

Plants from the ‘New World’
At various locations in the Hortus, such as in the Clusius Garden, the Systematic Garden and the Tropical Glasshouses, you can discover plants relating to the Leiden 400 theme. A walking tour booklet will guide visitors through the Hortus and to the Pilgrims’ Garden at another location in the Singel Park, the spot from which the Pilgrim Fathers departed from Leiden. Informative maps will help you to discover the American plants in our garden.

Programme of events
There is an extensive programme of events to accompany this exhibition; please visit our website for the complete programme. New activities this year include creative writing workshops with the author Jeroen Windmeijer (Dutch language only) and wood-cutting workshops with the artist Wieteke Opmeer. In July and August we will be working on a collaborative piece of art in the Winter Garden incorporating seeds. The comic strip book ‘Van Columbus tot Mayflower. Zaden over zee’ (Dutch language only) has been developed for children aged between 8 and 12 years who take part in one of the Hortus treasure hunts. In this story, the mister Fuller and his assistant, the gardener’s boy Thomas, sail over the ocean via England to America. Children who have completed the treasure hunt may collect a free copy of the comic strip book from the entrance desk. The Hortus Grand Café has a special children’s menu of delicious dishes in keeping with the theme of the exhibition.

Plants that inadvertently travelled over the ocean will also be highlighted; the dandelion was unknown in America before Columbus’ arrival and the plantain was called ‘the white man’s footstep’ as this plant followed the colonist wherever they went. Beyond the Hortus boundaries, the project ‘pavement plants’ will draw attention to plants and their travels throughout the world.

Exhibition in the ‘Zwarte Tulp’ museum
The Dutch Society of Botanical Artists will commemorate the 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower in Museum de Zwarte Tulp (the ‘Black Tulip museum’) in Lisse, with an exhibition of works of art based on plants featured in Rembert Dodoens’ herbarium. You can visit this exhibition from 21 March to 21 June 2020.

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