I’m on a mission to explore as much of Belgium as I can and now that it’s spring, I really can’t ignore the many parks and gardens that we have. I first went to Floralia as that flower show only runs for a few weeks each year but a week or two later I drove to the National Botanical Garden of Belgium in Meise, not far from Brussels.
The National Botanical Garden of Belgium in Meise
A bit of history
The history of the National Botanical Garden of Belgium dates back to the French Revolution when a first Botanical Garden of Brussels was founded. It took a while before the Garden gained some stability, suffering frequent name, location and director changes.Its future was finally secured in 1938 when the Belgian State – then the owner of the Garden – purchased the Domain of Bouchout from the royal family. The National Botanical Garden of Brussels has been located there since January 1, 1939.
The Castle of Bouchout dates back to the 12th century. Its last well-known inhabitant was princess Charlotte of Belgium, sister of King Leopold II, who died there in 1927. But the last person to have lived on the domain was the painter Erwin Ganz, a friend of the royal family who was granted permission to continue living on the domain until he died, which was in 1948.
Visiting the National Botanical Garden of Belgium
I visited the National Botanical Garden in April and granted, it was a bit too early in the season. The Belgian winter was long this year and when entering the garden, the bright yellow daffodils contrasted heavily with the still leafless trees.
The garden didn’t close during winter, though. It’s open all year round and while there may not be any flowers to spot outside in winter, visitors can find all kinds of plants in the large greenhouse, also known as the “Plant Palace”. The Plant Palace consists out of different smaller greenhouses that all simulate other climates and hold vegetation from those climates.
Tip: be sure to take off your jacket before you enter the Plant Palace because most of the rooms there are tropically hot!
I didn’t visit the Plant Palace until I’d seen the rest of the garden as it was a lovely day and I was in the mood for a stroll. The National Botanical Garden of Belgium is 92 ha big, so there’s a lot of strolling (yes, that’s a word) to be done. I saw most of the garden in over two hours, but I have to say I think it would have taken me much longer if the flowers had been out already and if I hadn’t been just by myself.
There were a lot of families there as well and I think it’s a great place to let your kids play on the grass while watch them from a bench in the sun. There’s also a nice terrace where you can have a drink and a snack, plus you can find themed walks at the ticket counter that guide you along different species of plants/flowers according to the season. When I was there, the Garden had a “Magnolia Walk”.
Of course, I took some photos during my visit, which you can find below. At the bottom of the post, I’ve also gathered some practical information in case you’d want to visit the National Botanical Garden of Belgium yourself (you should!).
Some views of the Garden:
Some flowers and blossoms up close:
Spring has arrived:
The Castle of Bouchout:
National Botanical Garden of Brussels
Domain of Bouchout
By car: there’s a parking lot in front of the entrance
By bus from Brussels:
- lines 250 and 251, stop “Meise: Nationale Plantentuin” (You need to ask the driver to stop here as it’s not a standard stop)
- lines 260 and 233, stop “Meise: Private Dreef” (You need to ask the driver to stop here as it’s not a standard stop) – the Garden is a 1-km walk from the stop
From Brussels National Airport:
- by taxi: €32 – €42
- by bus: line 821 to stop “Meise Boechtstraat”. The closest entrance to this stop is Entrance B (“Meise Dorp”) and not the main entrance to the Garden
More visitor information can be found at the National Botanical Garden website.