The Castle Gardens Arcen reopened its doors on April 5th, 2014 and continues to be a source of inspiration for visitors. Stichting Limburgs Landschap wrote in its May 2013 publication ‘Castle Gardens Arcen, a vision of the future’: “In December 2012, the Friends of the Limburgs Landscape has taken over the exploitation of the Castle Gardens Arcen, 25 years after the creation of the gardens. The goal of the Limburgs Landscape is to preserve the sustainable maintenance of the castle and park, and guarantee that it remains open to the public. For this they need a strategic vision for the gardens.
Stichting het Limburgs Landschap acquired the Arcen estate and grounds in 1976. In the 1980’s, ideas were worked out for a unique rosary where the newest and most beautiful roses grown in the region could be exhibited. These plans came as an initiative of the region itself in order to promote the area’s horticultural growers, especially the rose growers, and give them an attractive backdrop in the form of a park (Rose promotion). Castle Arcen was chosen from a number of worthy locations in North Limburg. The broader concept of the Castle Gardens Arcen grew from this original idea. The Rosary was expanded into a permanent garden and plant exposition that was loosely inspired by the Floriade, the horticultural exposition held every 10 years in The Netherlands. The designer of the gardens was Niek Roozen, who later went on to become the chief designer of the Floriade 2002 in Haarlemmermeer. The development also included the restoration of the castle itself and its annexes. The castle took on food and exhibition functions. The castle gardens were festively opened to the public by Prince Bernhard on May 31, 1988.
After the opening in 1988, the Caste Gardens enjoyed many years of success and a growing number of visitors. The peak was in the beginning of the 1990’s, with a maximum visitor count of 300,000 per year. During its 24 years of operation, the park has enjoyed more than three million visitors.
The organization was run with a lease construction where each subsequent renter over the years was responsible for daily maintenance, exploitation and food services. In 2012, this construction ended and the management board of the Stichting Limburgs Landschap decided to take the exploitation of the complex into its own hands for now. They have chosen to open the castle gardens to the public again through the use of two approaches: an operational approach in order to open the park in 2013 and a strategic development approach in order to work on the future. The year 2013 is considered a transition year where the exploitation focuses on recovering the quality of the gardens and castle as well as attracting visitors.
The flowering beauty and the atmosphere of the gardens remains the most important theme. It is the soul of the park. The park is a collection of high quality top gardens, including a living exposition of the best plant material. This is how it was designed and built in the 1980’s and has remained so over the years. However the quality has gone down in the past few years and is almost unrecognizable. The variation in plant species has been blurred and the garden concepts are no longer innovative. The level of quality will need to be renewed in the coming years, and all aspects strengthened.”