The hidden city gardens of Flanders
During the 17th century when Peter Paul Rubens was around, having a garden was a true status symbol. It is, after all, the ultimate reflection of your wealth. Rubens once grew potato plants and tulips in his garden. The potato plant is an ornamental plant from America and tulips are very expensive.
Rubens loved gardens
The most expensive book in Rubens' library (and he had a fair few) is a book on gardening. Believe it or not, but the gardener was the best paid out of all of Rubens' staff. It goes without saying that the most important houses and palazzi of that time had a stunning garden. Have a look at these beauties. Did you know that even Antwerp Cathedral has a small enclosed garden?
The most beautiful gardens of Antwerp
Start your day with a visit to the Rubens House, followed by the palazzo of one of his good friends and mayor of Antwerp, the Rockox House. It is thanks to the Rockox's archives that we know so much about the plants and flowers of that time. Staying in Rubens' era and also well worth a visit are the cinematic garden of St Paul's Church and the hidden garden of den Wolsack. The Elzenveld is part of the oldest hospital of Antwerp and has an adjoining herb garden. Some of these historic spots were revived. For example, the Botanical garden of Antwerp is home to a genuine gingerbread house where can you find the divine lunch restaurant Het Gebaar. To avoid disappointment, reservations are a must. This is also the same for The Jane, Sergio Herman's restaurant, which is situated within the enclosed gardens of the old Military Hospital.
Contemporary green masters
Even now, Flanders still has internationally renowned specialists in flowers and gardens, including Mark Colle from the florist's Baltimore Bloemen. Many international fashion designers go wild for his flower arrangements. His confrère Daniel Ost is known as the World's Leading Floral Designer, and then there is the famous landscape architect Wirtz. Other international leading figures include Thierry Boutémy (famous for the breath-taking bouquets in the film 'Antoinnette' by Sophia Coppola), Eric D'Hondt and Bureau Bas Smets.
Are you interested in beautiful gardens, parks or green gems?
Here is a selection that I can highly recommend.
The Royal greenhouses. Please note: the greenhouses can only be visited during a three-week period each year.
National Botanical garden: 92 hectares of castle grounds including the recently renovated Plant palace, the only one in the world to simulate all climate zones.
The castle of Gaasbeek: This French walled garden has a unique espaliered fruit tree collection, which has been ranked number one in the world for centuries.
The gardens of Hoegaarden