of Flora Batava
Hotel Flora Batava has a rich history. In 1670 Agnes Block bought a farm on 14.5 hectares of land and founded the country estate the Vijverhof. Agnes had an orangery, orchards, ornamental and vegetable gardens, avenues and various ponds constructed outside.
1670 - 1704
At the Vijverhof, Agnes Block developed into a skilled cultivator of rare and exotic plants. Through barter and trade with merchants, botanists and hortulani, she collected hundreds of plant and flower species in her gardens and orangery from all over the world and was nicknamed “Flora Batava”.
“AGNES BLOCK WAS THE FIRST BOTANICIAN IN THE NETHERLANDS TO GROW A FRUIT BEARING PINEAPPLE PLANT.”
In 1702, great-nephew Gualtherius Blok sang her Vijverhof in a song of praise. About the exotic crops that Agnes Block grew, Blok wrote the following. Please note that this poem is in Old-Dutch:
“Hier streelt gy keurelykst,
gy wet hier onse sinnen
Door Konst, en Arbeid,
om Natuur volmaakt te winnen.
De vrucht, die ’t Oosten voor sijn éelste Nectar acht,
En ’t Westen uit sijn schoot eerst tot ons overbracht.
Wiens aangename reuk vervult de grootste saalen,
Wiens schoon gesicht,
‘t penceel onmachtig af te maalen,
’t Nieuwsgierig oog bekoort,
is dat uitheems gewas,
Die ’s Winters bloeiende, die goud-geele Ananas;
Haar smaak gaar persiken in de allerbeste hoven,
Haar sap de soetste most van muscadel te boven”
In 1700 a silver penny was made for her by Jan Boskam. On the front of the coin, her portrait and name are featured, and the inscription "Flora Batava". The reverse side shows the goddess Flora, the Vijverhof, a pineapple, and a Latin inscription that, translated, reads: “Art and labor power where nature fails”.
AGNES BLOCK& JAN WEENIX
Around 1694 Jan Weenix painted the Vijverhof on which Agnes Block, her husband, and two children, possibly two nieces, are depicted. In the background, part of the landscaping is visible with an aviary in the middle, on the left besides her the home-grown fruit-bearing pineapple and a cactus, and on the right objects from her cabinet of curiosities.
PAINTERSAT THE VIJVERHOF
It appears that Agnes Block's collection of plants and flowers consisted of four to five hundred varieties! She had her collection carefully recorded by various artists, including Alida Withoos, Maria Sybilla Merian, Herman Saftleven and Johan Bronkhorst. In total there are hundreds of watercolors made of her trees, flowers and birds.
THE VECHTSHIPPING CONNECTION
In the Middle Ages, the Vecht was a very important shipping connection between the Zuiderzee and the Rhine, which, among other things, gave access to what is now called Germany. Castles were built along the Vecht at that time, of which Nijenrode Castle in Breukelen is a good example. The river was also part of the Dutch Waterline.
After the death of Agnes Block in 1704, the country estate came into the possession of Samuel Texeira, a Portuguese-Jewish merchant. In 1717 the Russian tsar Peter the Great praised the 'completeness of the art of cultivation' during a visit to Vijverhof. After the country estate was demolished in 1819, a new country house was built in 1866. This national monument is part of Hotel Flora Batava.
joost van den vondel
A wedding poem
Joost van den Vondel was Agnes Block’s uncle. They were very close and he wrote this wedding poem for her second marriage.
Wat teelt onderlinge min?
Twee gelyken, eens van zin,
In al wat men geestigh rekent.
Beide in kloek vernuft uitsteekent,
d’Een schept zomwyl lust op ‘t lant,
Daer zy bloemen zaeit en plant,
Of de Bloemgodin helpt vieren,
En het loofwerk op papieren,
Uitgesneden met de schaer,
Offert op het huisaltaer:
d’Ander heeft Natuur getroffen,
Als hy net in zyde stoffen,
Loof en schoone bloemen weeft,
Schooner dan de lente ons geeft.
Wat kan zulk een huwelyk baeren,
Daer die beide in echt vergaeren,
Met een ryp en wys beleit,
Anders dan genoeghzaemheit?
FLINES, die door stadigh minnen
‘t Onvermurwde hart kost winnen
Van uwe AGNES; out en jongk
Drinkt met eenen blyde dronk
U geluk toe, Godt wil geven
Dat gy beide in vreught mooght leven.
RENOVATION OF FLORA BATAVA
We are very proud of the fact that the Vijverhof country estate will finally reopen in April 2021. In 2019, a start was made with the restoration of the outdoor courtyard and the change of the outdoor courtyard into a hotel function.