The first Brussels botanical garden was established a long time ago, and it has moved sites twice to make way for city redevelopments. The previous botanical garden built in 1829 is a neoclassical building in central Brussels near Rue Royale. The new site for the collection was provided in 1938 by the Royal Family and is at Miese. Building was delayed by the war years and the main Plant Palace was not started until 1947 and completed in 1959.
It was officially opened in 1958 in the year of the word fair, when it was renamed to the National Botanical Garden of Belgium. The collection contains around 18000 species of which 8000 are in the ornamental park grounds and the rest inside the greenhouse. It may be reached by car taking exit ??? off the Brussels outer ring.
It is a very impressive and wide ranging collection split into reference, geographical and utility species. There is a significant research facility in the grounds and the organisation seems to be similar to Kew.
|A modern art scuplture of aluminium disks exhibited in one of the ponds. There are extensive parklands surrounding the greenhouse which also have labelled reference specimens interspersed with ornamental plantings.|
|The orangery is smaller that at the Royal Palace, but is situated in front of a fine lake and serves teas outside. There is plenty of space for everyone.|
|There is also a castle with a moat inside the grounds and a huge number of water fowl. The castle contains a public exhibition space which when we visited had a display of rare early botanical prints and watercolours of orchids. There is also a gift shop which stocks a good selection of horticultural books including an English language guide to the gardens, and also one to Belgian gardens open to the public.|
|The greenhouses move from temperate through all the stages of subtropical, tropical to the centre where equatorial rainforest conditions and plants are maintained in a steamy jungle environment. This poses some problems for acclimatising camera lenses. These are giant lily pads, slightly early in the growing season so only 3-4 feet across.|
|In the tropical house they had a very wide range of plants large and small. The collection of useful plants was extensive, and this is a cocoa plant complete with a fruit which is used to make chocolate.|
|The cacti and succulent plant sections were something of a disappointment, being overcrowded and not in particularly good condition. This may well change soon as a new arid house was in the process of being added - using the crane in the panorama shot.|
|When we visited there was an orchid show and exhibition in progress with trade stands from all over Europe exhibiting their latest hybrids.|