One thing I certainly miss about home is my parents’ huge backyard. I never truly appreciated the benefits of a garden until I moved in my 3rd floor city apartment and realised it is so much more than just grass and plants: It’s the first breakfast outside in spring, barbecue with friends and cold beers in summer; it’s enjoying the evening sun after a long day in the office, growing flowers and retreating oneself. In a city like Rotterdam, known for its rather un-green landscape of skyscrapers and docks, such place may seem to be hard to find. May seem? That’s right!

Photography: Zelda Bonnet

On the go for a night out, my friends and I cycled all the way to the edge of Delfshaven’s harbor district last weekend, and there it was – hidden between industrial factories and the rushing water of the Maas: a small secret garden.

“The moment I discovered they had a swing, I was totally hooked.”

Imagine a former engineering factory turned into every garden party-lover’s dream: a tunnel made of ivy, a huge flower wall, a garden shed-bar and plants everywhere. Add a magical atmosphere, spontaneous performances, movies, music and arts and there you get: “De Geheime Tuin.”

Photography: Zelda Bonnet

It is an indoor garden, to be fair, but as I said earlier, a garden is so much more about a certain feeling than just greenery. My friends and I visited a silent disco party (my first ever) and immediately immersed ourselves in the tropical atmosphere of the secret garden. The moment I discovered they had a swing, I was totally hooked.

Photography: Zelda Bonnet

De Geheime Tuin is a festival organized by Rotterdam girls Kelly and Kim, who made it their mission to create intimate, hidden green oases in the middle our sometimes-rough city, where people can relax, enjoy and connect with other garden-lovers.

If you’d also like to escape the city for some tropical feelings, be quick: Upcoming weekend marks already the end of the festival, with a closing party on Saturday. Otherwise, I’ll see you in summer for their summer edition (that time, in a real garden)!

Check for their last dates and times on: De Geheime Tuin

Photography: Zelda Bonnet

Photography: Zelda Bonnet