Visiting the botanic garden in Meise

There’s nothing better than enjoying the first sunny days outside. Winter dip and Vitamin D deficiency begone!

My high school friend, Sabine, stayed over last weekend. We decided to go to the botanic garden in Meise, a huge (92 ha) garden holding the astonishing amount of 18.000 different plants. I’d never been there before, even though it’s just a 40 min drive from where we live. One of the reasons we actually wanted to go there was the 72 hour lasting flowering of the almost-extinct Titan Arum. Amorphophallus titanum, its scientific name, literally translated means misshapen penis. You can see why…

Titan Arum

This actually is an extraordinary plant. It gives off a terrible scent (a mix between foul cheese, fish gone bad and a rotting corpse) to attract sweat bees. Thinking they’ll find a nice cadaver to consume, they descend into this amusing appearance. Once they leave the plant, their bodies all covered up in pollen, it’s quite possible they get lured by another distant Titan Arum, and fertilize its many flowers.

Although our goal was seeing this huge blooming, I actually had more fun seeing the other gems of this place.

We started at the Plant Palace. A huge greenhouse complex divided in 13 different zones; 11 of them actually simulate climates (monsoon, tropical rain forest, dessert …) of different regions in the world. The 2 remaining glass houses are more thematic, one explaining the evolution of the plant world and the other bundling tropical plants we consume or use for other purposes.

For a full size view, click on the square pictures! 😉

I really enjoyed walking inside this glass building, occasionally recognizing houseplants but mostly just running around like a kid in a toy store. I had to smell every flower I saw. The beauty and approachable complexity of nature keeps astounding me.

After the Plant Palace, we went outside and sat down next to the lake for lunch. Although it didn’t get warmer than 7°C, we weren’t cold, enjoying the sunrays on our faces.

Our final purpose was the Winter Walk, a mapped out route along the site not only showing the first flowering plants and trees, but also giving prominence to plants with colorful twigs, striking berries or out of the ordinary bark. The list contained 43 different plants each with their own characteristics.

I’m planning on revisiting this wonderful place to see which hidden beauties I have still to discover. See you in springtime Botanic Garden Meise!

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