The clouds are our dreams

Clouds in Holland (© Hindrik Sijens)

Dykes, ditches, windmills, villas and geometric fields – these are some of the features of the Dutch landscape. They reflect Holland’s struggle against the water, the wealth of the Golden Age, the fertility of the soil and the toil of farmers. And the low horizon on which enormous expanses of sky rest, leading to the 17th century expression “the clouds are our mountains”. 

But when it comes to creating landscape for newly reclaimed land, the Netherlands is mired in controversy. Landscape architects want to create their ‘personal vision’ of nature, conservationists would like to create ‘pure nature’, unsullied by the presence of humans, the recreation industry wants large-scale ‘nature parks’ with entrance fees and educational signposts. 

Louise Williams takes a tour of the Dutch landscape.