7th to 11th September 2020:
Featuring the Plant Fair at Kasteel Hex & private gardens of Flanders
An exclusive TELEGRAPH tour hosted by gardens correspondent, HELEN YEMM and led by SOPHIE PIEBENGA.
Belgian gardens, like Belgian chocolates, are intricate, delicious and exclusive. In recent years, garden culture in Belgium has evolved greatly, largely due to a wave of first-class designers including Jacques Wirtz, Daniel Ost and Chris Ghyselen whose work we will see. Structure and design are important in these gardens. Hedges, trellises and tight clipped topiary can be found in all gardens. There is a strong tradition of plantsmanship and horticultural excellence, so we will view some fine collections during the tour as well as a specialist nursery and visit the delightful plant fair at Kasteel Hex. The tour is mostly set in Flanders, the northern eastern half of Belgium, where Flemish, a dialect of Dutch, is spoken. Sophie Piebenga, well known to many of our regular travellers, is appreciated for her charm and professionalism and will be our local guide to this fascinating region. We stay for two nights in beautiful Bruges at The Grand Hotel Casselbergh and two nights in the heart of historic Antwerp at Hotel ‘T Sandt, two stylish town house hotels in walking distance of all the main highlights of these vibrant cities.
Day 1: Monday 7th September
Depart by Eurostar service from London, St. Pancras Rail Station at 08:55, arriving in Brussels Midi Rail Station at 12.05. Transfer by luxury coach to De Uil, where lunch is included. This was the former residence of artist Karel Aubroeck (1894-1986), now occupied by interior designers Marc Massa and Roger Liekens. The garden was designed by renowned floral artist and garden architect Daniel Ost and includes a beautiful wild shade garden and stylized formal garden. Continue to the Grand Hotel Casselbergh where we stay for the next two nights dining together this evening in a local restaurant.
Day 2: Tuesday 8th September
Start with a stroll through historic Bruges before visiting the garden of landscape architect Chris Ghyselen. Known for his use of fine grasses and perennials, we are led through billowing borders down narrow paths that softly blend into the surrounding countryside. Following a simple lunch, head to a region renowned for poulders and pollarding where the fourteenth century moated Kasteel van Oostkerke is enwrapped by a series of flower-filled gardens. At the end of the second world war the garden was practically lost in a great flood, in 1946 Baron van der Elst commissioned Dutch landscape architect Mien Ruys to lay out a new garden, today this is still much loved by the family. Return to Bruges for an evening meal together at a local restaurant.
Day 3: Wednesday 9th September
A little free time in the heart of Bruges before visiting the enclosed farmstead of Bijsterveld where a moat and a series of concentric enclosures leads one out to flower-filled meadowlands. We then step into Zeeland, Netherlands and following a light lunch we meet Frans & Franny Geijsels at their small garden and nursery, ‘In Goede Aarde’ (In Good Earth). Franny tends the gardens and Frans propagates and designs. They have a great reputation in this region for selling high quality plants along with very sound advice on cultivation. Then drive into the heart of Antwerp to the stylish Hotel ‘T Sandt where you are accommodated for the next two nights for bed and breakfast with time to check in before eating together at RAS Antwerp a restaurant on the River Scheldt a short walk from the hotel.
Day 4: Thursday 10th September
A day in Antwerp starting with a slow ride through the Art Nouveau district of Cogels Osylei, Zurenborg where the Belle Epoque grandeur of the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century created by the finest architects of the day is showcased. Dutch-born artist and landscape designer, Roland van der Hilst moved to Antwerp in 1993, bringing with him a great love of tulips. We see his Tulip gallery before visiting the small enclosed garden of Hortus Conclusus where Roland and his partner Marcel have created a flower filled heaven. Rubenshuis Museum is where the artist Peter Paul Rubens lived with his family, where he painted and enjoyed his garden. What we see today is a credible reconstruction of a garden from Rubens’ time taken from Rubens painting “A Walk in the Garden “. The afternoon is free to find your own lunch and to further explore this vibrant city. On our last night we enjoy a culinary highlight at the famous restaurant Sir Anthony Van Dijck located in the shadow of the cathedral.
Day 5: Friday 11th September
Today we visit Kasteel Hex where the specialist plant fair is held twice a year. September is the perfect time to visit the famous kitchen gardens in the grounds of the Castle but also to enjoy the wonderful array of stalls and to meet nurserymen from Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany. Return to Brussels Midi Railway Station for a 17:56 departure arriving in London St Pancras at 19:05.
How much & what’s included:
Price per person: £2680
(Single supplement of £250 levied by the hotels)
The price includes: two nights with breakfast at The Grand Hotel Casselbergh, Bruges and two nights with breakfast at Hotel ‘T Sandt, Antwerp; four evening meals with wines included; plus three lunches as set out in the itinerary; and those wishing to make their own travel arrangements should state this on the booking form and deduct £100 per person from the tour price. Please note that we cannot absolutely guarantee the train times until 3 months prior to the tour start date. The price does not include extras at the hotel or travel insurance. Please note that hotels used by Boxwood Tours are invariably hotels of character featuring a variety of rooms & styles.
This tour is financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate