The Royal Greenhouses in Laeken are open to the public from Friday until 7 May, as is tradition, providing an opportunity to discover a collection of rare plants, some of which are unique in the world.
Visitors can choose between a 1.5-hour visit or a longer 2.5-hour walk. During the weekend, the site is also open in the evening.
The longest tour begins with a walk through the gardens of the Royal Estate, during which it is possible to admire a panoramic view of the greenhouses. The visit then continues inside the glasshouses.
After that, the visitor passes through the Congo Greenhouse, dedicated to subtropical plants, the Winter Garden and its tree ferns, under the largest dome in the complex, or the Embarcadero, which was once used as a reception area for visitors.
In total, there are more than 30 gardeners working to maintain the plantations and the 186-hectare estate throughout the year. “We are already starting to prepare for next year,” explains Johan Lauwers, head gardener of the Greenhouse. For each edition, the route is also slightly modified and offers visitors something new.
The three weeks that are open to the public are those that correspond to the flowering period. “Everything is calculated. We have to play with what spring gives us in terms of heat and sunshine, to have flowers for the opening. It’s a real challenge,” notes Lauwers.
The Royal Greenhouses were designed in 1874 by architect Alphonse Balat, a teacher of Victor Horta, and King Leopold II, in an Art Nouveau style. Some of the plants on display today were already present among the original plantings made by the King.
About 100,000 visitors are expected to visit the greenhouses over the next three weeks.