An oasis in the heart of Brussels, Parc Du Botanique, is utterly charming even on a blustery, overcast March day. I was captivated by the topiary. Anyone who knows me, will be surprised by this statement, as I am quite offended, even a bit frightened, by the topiary in Toronto's front yards. But, I've come to the realization that context is imperative. The sculpted shrubbery perfectly compliments the structure of the gardens and the architecture of this city. I now better understand the impulse to manicure that single bush, protected by fence, and arising from the blanket of paving stones. Perhaps I've even developed a new appreciation for these personal gardens in our Toronto neighbourhoods.
The sprouting spring flora may have contributed to my falling-so-easily-in-love with this park. I've been on the move from city to city over the past 3 weeks, without much time to seek out green space or countryside. I relished the park experience, I frolicked and gasped in delight. I am fully ready for the change of season.
Originally founded in 1826, the main orangery, Le Botanique, is now a dedicated arts and cultural centre. In 1870 the Belgian state purchased the garden and commissioned various sculptures, fountains and electrical lighting to beautify the park and encourage the country's support of public art and their artists. Unfortunately for me, in 1938, most of the botanical resources were relocated to a new home at the National Botanic Garden of Belgium on the outskirts of the city. Fortunately, however, its remarkable collection of large tree species and historical statues still remains. The National Botanic Garden of Belgium is now added to my list of destinations abroad.
The garden is open from 10am until 5:30pm in winter and 9pm in summer. I didn't observe the parks hours previous to my first visiting and was forbidden access by a tall wall of bars.