We usually think that we have to cover great distances to discover new beautiful things. Many people’s favourite place in Brussels is, unfortunately, Zaventem Airport. It is the syndrome of the dweller of big cities, wanting to escape from daily life at the slightest opportunity: getting away from the city should mean for them arriving in a more hospitable place. With this post I would like to begin a series of aesthetic springtime pilgrimages to show some excellent places to relax and enjoy nature in Brussels or within a stone’s throw.
Magnolias are very special trees. They blossom very early, at the end of March in Brussels, defying night frost or even late snowfalls. The most common kinds in Belgium are deciduous trees; flowers appear when the trees are still leafless, giving them a delicate and, at the same time, rough look. They remind me of coral, colourful fragile animals encapsulated in sandstone branches, which would make perfect ikebana if it was not so wasteful to cut off some branches just for a few days’ indoors blossoming.
Two stops are compulsory in this aesthetic pilgrimage. Firstly, the Botanic Garden in Meise. In front of the plant palace there is a wonderful variety of magnolias, all with their botanical identification tags. Last year, they had an exhibition in the old stable in front of the shop, with photos and bouquets of the different kinds.
Magnolias in Meise on 30/03/2014
The second stop is the parking area of the public park of Laeken in front of the Royal Palace. The two fifty-metres long rows constitute one of the best collections of magnolias in the whole country. The access is completely free, so easy that most people pay scarce attention to this vegetable monument.
Magnolias in Laeken on 16/03/2014
Although the blossoming is later this year, after a “normalish” winter, I would not wait very long to start the pilgrimage since some flowers are already opening up and future rain may spoil their delicate petals.
Images credit © Ruskin in Brussels