Gourmet Gardens of Belgium
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 not only in traditional ‘kasteel’ gardens, but also in private 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 plant fair at Kasteel Hex. The tour is located in Flanders, the northern half of Belgium, where Flemish, a dialect of Dutch, is spoken. Sophieke Piebenga, well known to many of our regular travellers, is appreciated for her charm and professionalism and will be our local, Dutch speaking guide to this fascinating region. We stay for two nights on the banks of the River Leie at the Auberge du Pêcheur, renowned for the culinary inspiration of the chef, and three nights in the heart of historic Antwerp at Hotel ‘t Sandt, a stylish 17th century town house hotel in walking distance of all the main highlights of this vibrant city. For images of these gardens, click the following link: Boxwood Gallery
NOTE: We are helping travellers with additional transport & accommodation required to link this with the subsequent tour of Alsace & Rhineland starting Saturday, 11th June in Frankfurt. Do get in contact with the Boxwood Tours office for further information...
Day 1: Sunday 5th June
Depart by Eurostar service from London, St. Pancras Rail Station at 08.28, arriving in Brussels at 12.08. Transfer by luxury coach to a local restaurant for lunch before visiting De Uil, 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 to the north and very stylized garden to the south. Continue to the Auberge du Pêcheur where we stay for the next two nights, evening meals with wine included.
Day 2: Monday 6th June
The private garden of Kasteel van Oostkerke, just north of Bruges is our first garden of the day. The Dutch landscape architect Mien Ruys had a strong hand in the design of the garden, so today we find the 14th century castle enwrapped by a series of flower-filled gardens, moats and polder meadows. Head into Bruges for free time to find lunch and explore 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.
Day 3: Tuesday 7th June
Mrs Verbiest-Dekker, a passionate flower arranger, invites us to coffee and to see her roses and fruit orchards, including many older cultivars. Nearby is the enclosed farmstead of Bijsterveld surrounded by open countryside with typical pollard willows. A series of hedged enclosures leads one in an informal meander to flower-filled meadowlands beyond. Following an invitation to lunch, we visit Silene, an unusual small nursery specialising in annual seeds and plants. Then drive into the heart of Antwerp to the stylish Hotel ‘t Sandt where you are accommodated for the next three nights for bed and breakfast with time to check in before eating together at a local restaurant.
Day 4: Wednesday 8th June
Start the day visiting the unusual Art Nouveau De Wintertuin van de Ursulinen, a beautifully stained glass conservatory, before an invitation to Arboretum Wespelaar, a private collection amassed by one Philippe de Spoelberch. Following a light lunch, return to Antwerp for free time, perhaps to see the home of the 17th century artist Pieter Paul Ruben’s, now a museum with adjoining garden inspired by the Rubens painting The Walk in the Garden. The rest of the day is free.
Day 5: Thursday 9th June
In the morning we visit the private garden of the world-renowned landscape architect Jacques Wirtz. Afterwards, we tour Arboretum Kalmthout: developed by the De Belder family, it is outstanding not only for its collections of trees but also for the harmonious arrangements of complementary plant groups. A light lunch is included before visiting the private garden of Frieda Van Glabbeek a passionate topiarist. On our last night we enjoy a culinary highlight at the famous restaurant Sir Anthony Van Dijck located on one of the oldest streets of the city, in the shadow of the cathedral.
Day 6: Friday 10th June
We circle east to visit the The Plant Fair at Kasteel Hex where this specialist plant fair is held twice a year in the private castle grounds. June is a the perfect time to enjoy the abundant rose collection found in the castle gardens dating back to the mid-20th century when Comtess d’Ursel started to establish her collection of old and species roses. Return to Brussels for a 16.56 departure arriving in London St Pancras at 18.06.
How much & what's included:
The price per person: £2,398.
Single supplement: £280 (levied by the hotels).
The price includes: two nights’ accommodation at the Auberge du Pêcheur; three nights at Hotel ‘t Sandt; 4 evening meals with wine; and four lunches as stated in the itinerary. Those wishing to make their own travel arrangements should state this on the booking form and deduct £75.00 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.
FINANCIAL FAILURE INSURANCE
In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of Boxwood Tours Ltd will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of Boxwood Tours Ltd. This insurance has been arranged by Travel & General Insurance Services Limited on behalf of Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited. Customer bookings will be declared on a monthly basis to Travel & General Insurance Services Limited. Invoices issued to passengers for their bookings will contain these insurance wordings. This cover is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the insurance policy wordings, a copy of which is available on request.