Plantentuin Meise, Brussels (Flanders - Belgium)

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali
  
THE BELGIAN KEW GARDENS

Plantentuin Meise (Meise Botanic Garden - National Botanic Garden of Belgium) is a very vast area and ideally, it would take an entire day to visit all of its sections. I would be lying if I say Meise Plantentuin didn't remind me of my visit to Kew Gardens in London, a couple years back. This time around I was there with my Atyudarini and hands-down it is one of the best places to visit in Brussels with kids.

Plantentuin Meise Botanic Garden Brussels Belgium


Château de Bouchout Meise Botanic Garden

Château de Bouchout Meise Botanic Garden

Château de Bouchout Meise Plantentuin

Plantentuin Meise Botanic Garden Brussels

HISTORY OF BOTANIC GARDEN OF BRUSSELS
The original location of the Botanic Garden of Brussels was in Botanique, beside Botanique Metro Station not far from the Royal Palace of Belgium. This was founded in 1826 in a space of just 6 hectares. This was then called The Royal Horticultural Society of the Netherlands since Belgium wasn't even born then! It was then called The Royal Horticultural Society of Belgium. Later, by 1939, since this place was getting too cramped, it was moved to Meise. Today Botanique is an open-air venue for various cultural events. 

MEISE CASTLE OF CHÂTEAU DE BOUCHOUT
My first stop within the Meise Botanic Garden was of course the Meise Castle of Château de Bouchout. It is a beautiful moated castle. Definitely one of the most picturesque and most beautiful fairytale castles of Belgium. The castle hosts various exhibitions time and again. When we were there, there was an exhibition of nature-inspired art (more about it below).
Apart from the temporary exhibitions, there is a permanent exhibition about the history of the castle. The first fortification here is believed to be built by Wouter van Craaynem in mid 12th C CE. As time went by, it changed several hands and were re-built many times. The current structure belongs to 1832 by count Amadeus de Beauffort. Since 1939, this became a part of the National Botanic Gardens of Belgium. 
It is possible to go atop the terrace of this castle and the view from atop there is fabulous. Just beside the castle, in the waterbody is a pontoon! This pontoon is a raft-like thing attached to a rope. So you can hold onto this and cross the waterbody!

PLANT PALACE GREENHOUSE OF MEISE BOTANIC GARDEN 
From the Castle, a few steps lead you to the Garden Shop and in front of it is the Plant Palace. Plant Palace is the main area of the botanical garden - its humongous greenhouse. It is split into a whopping 13 different climatic zones beginning with Rainforest. The first photo-op is right here - balancing on a log tied by ropes on the ground level but over water! Then is a section dedicated to Central Africa, which includes details of Cacao plants. After this are sections dedicated to various climates - savannah & monsoon, Mediterranean, tropical wetlands, deserts, subtropical rainforests, tropical mountains, anthropogenic biomes and evolution
Walking through these regions really, truly would make you forget how the weather was outside. The temperature & humidity totally changes through the 13 sections. Atyudarini was really amused by the deserts & savannah region. She hadn't seen such big cacti so far in her life! The tropical areas not only had plants but also had waterbodies & tiny waterfalls, complete with fishes in them. Atyudarini got excited seeing the fishes & began singing the rhyme 'Visje visje in het water' and startled the other visitors! Well, you don't often see an Indian kid singing a Dutch rhyme!!!
The Subtropical Rainforest region has the Giant Waterlillies (more details below), the most common imagery of Plantentuin Meise. While you're admiring them, don't miss the carnivorous Pitcher Plants right there (did you spot to our left in the first pic of this post?)!
The walking path inside Plant Palace is a loop path & ends back at the Rainforest region. There is a gorgeous canopy walk here with 2 levels. Walking up to the 2nd level, close to the roof of the greenhouses, it felt so warm that we both started sweating so much! Nevertheless, the view from atop is splendid! It gives an actual feel of how a tropical region would look & feel like, from atop. It is so easy at that point to forget you're in the centre of Belgium!!!

Plantentuin Meise Plant Palace Greenhouse

Botanic Garden Meise Plant Palace Greenhouse

Climate Zones in Meise Botanic Garden

Canopy Walk in Meise Botanic Garden

Climate Zones in Meise Botanic Garden

BEST BABY PHOTOGRAPHY IN BRUSSELS
One of the best places for baby photoshoot in Belgium is right here in Plantentuin Meise at the Tropical Wetlands area inside Plant Palace. The leaves of Victorian Giant Waterlillies are so big and can withstand several kilograms of weight. Every year, on certain weekends in summer, when these leaves are at their best growth, baby photoshoot happens here with the baby made to sit on the floating leaves!!! This is open only to babies younger than 1 year and the slots get sold out almost as soon as it opens. So keep an eye on the official site if you have a baby or even if you're just pregnant. 

LIVING WILLOW SCULPTURES OF MEISE BOTANIC GARDENS
Walking out of the Plant Palace, we headed directly to what looked like a human-sized Weaver bird's nest. This is a permanent art installation by Will Beckers. It is a living sculpture meaning, the willows are alive and have roots here! It is possible to walk into them! While adults may have to bend over a bit, it is super fun for toddlers. Again, one more reason why Plantentuin Meise is one of the best places to visit in Brussels with kids. 

WOOD LAB AT MEISE BOTANICAL GARDEN
This is the actual indoor museum part of the Meise Botanical Garden. Wood Lab of Meise is the Wood Museum of Brussels. It teaches about various types of wood, timber cultivation etc. While the rest of the place is about living trees & plants, this is about wood as a material for human consumption and how to be more sustainable and practice environmental responsibility. 
One of the intriguing pieces here is actually just outside the Wood Lab. It is a trunk section of a 2000-year-old Giant Sequoia. So this must have germinated somewhere around when the Greeks built the Athens Acropolis and when then Romans built the Palatine Hill

HERBARIUM (HERBETUM) AT MEISE BOTANICAL GARDEN 
Here is a mini-greenhouse called the Herbetum. The Herbetum is surrounded by a garden of herbs and inside the greenhouse is the ones that need suitable temperature. While Atyudarini has already seen Lavender several times already, she was seeing several other herbs for the first-ever time like Rosemary, Basil etc. All the plants are labelled for easier identification.

WALKING THROUGH PLANTENTUIN MEISE
The area of Plantentuin Meise is 92 hectares, making it a very very vast space to cover. It is only slightly smaller than Kew Gardens which covers 121 hectares. I have been there twice, but both times with my toddler whose tiny legs do get tired after walking about a lot! On both trips combined, I've visited a bit more than half of the entire space!
Apart from the 5 areas mentioned above, there are many many spots to see. My first stop was of course the Meise Castle - Château de Bouchout and from there the Plant Palace & Willow Sculptures. On one of my first trip, I went right and headed to the Woodlab. On the way to the Woodlab, in front of the Orangery (Restaurant) is the 'Amaze-your-feet path'. As the name suggests it is a bare-foot-walking-path that has various types of the earth to feel with your feet - wood, sand, soil, wet mud, mossy, gravel, pebbly, rocky and much more. Further ahead that is what I haven't visited so far - a Friendship temple and then are the plantations of Maples, Hydrangeas, Giant Redwoods, Roses, Pumpkins, Oaks etc
On my 2nd trip, I went left from the castle. In front of the Garden Shop is Orchid Meadow and then is the Medicinal Gardens. To the left here is the Herbetum and then is the Bamboo Plantations! Though Atyudarini has seen Bamboo already in Bokrijk, she was very young then and now she could really see how 'weird' bamboo is when compared to other 'trees'!!! Comprehending bamboo as grass is a bit too much for her for now!!!
On both my trips, after loads of walking, we wrapped up the days, sitting besides the little pond called Swamp Cypress located pretty close to the castle. 

Best Baby photoshoot in Brussels Belgium
Pic Courtesy: Meise Botanic Gardens (used here with permission)

Living Willow Sculptures Meise Plantentuin

Living Willow Sculptures Meise Botanic Garden

2000 year old Giant Sequoia tree annual rings

Herbarium Herbetum Meise Plantentuin Botanic Garden

TEMPORARY EXPOSITIONS AT PLANTENTUIN MEISE
When I visited Plantentuin Meise a couple months back, the Natura Inspiratus event by Fedos was happening. There were several sculptures inspired by nature scattered all over Meise Botanic Garden beautifully placed in exotic locations that match those particular pieces of art. Some that really caught my attention were a butterfly perched on a bent tree by Jan Clement, the cranes & dragonflies by Den Overkant in the castle's moat and Atyudarini's favourite was definitely the Rhinoceros poking the Earth by Gozewijn Devillé and the family with a dog by Rudy Duyck. Also, Jan Clement's man playing the Double Bass reminded her very very much of her favourite musician Robert Jukič (well, he's the father of one of her best friends)!

WHERE TO EAT IN MEISE BOTANIC GARDEN
There are 2 restaurants within the premises - Orangery that serves a-la-carte menu and the Garden Shop that serves a few snacks & sandwiches.
That said, it is very much allowed to bring your own food and picnic on the premises. There are quite a few benches all over the site for a quick snack. For a sit-down meal, there are picnic tables near the Orangery, one near the Castle and another one near Herbetum. 

ONE DAY ITINERARY AT BRUSSELS BOTANIC GARDENS, MEISE
See as much as possible with the top priority being Plant Palace, Château de Bouchat, Herbetum, Willow Sculptures, Wood Lab and walk on the Amaze-your-Feet Path. If you've packed your lunch you could eat sitting at any of the benches all over the premises. If you need to buy your lunch, you could stop by the Orangery by lunchtime. 

HALF DAY ITINERARY AT BRUSSELS BOTANIC GARDENS, MEISE
  • Plant Palace
  • Château de Bouchat
  • Herbetum (or) Wood Lab
Option 1 for the other half of the day: If it is Spring, you could check if the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken is open. It is open only for 3 weeks every year. 
Option 2 for the other half of the day: Spend the other half of the day at Atomium, ADAM (Design Museum) and Mini Europe. It will be super hectic to see it all though. Either visit inside Atomium or see Atomium from outside and visit inside ADAM (or) Mini Europe.

Den Overkant Natura Inspiratus Sculptures Meise Plantentuin

Jan Clement Natura Inspiratus Sculptures Meise Plantentuin

Gozewijn Devillé Natura Inspiratus Sculptures Meise Plantentuin

Bamboo Plantentuin Meise Botanic Garden

Swamp Cypress Meise Plantentuin Botanic Garden

WHERE IS PLANTENTUIN MEISE / MEISE BOTANIC GARDENS
Plantentuin Meise / Botanic Gardens of Meise is located in the town of Meise in the Flemish province of Vlaams Brabant. It is just in the outskirts of Brussels, just to the north of Atomium.
Also Read: Other things to do in Vlaams Brabant (Flemish Brabant)
On Google Maps: Meise Botanic Garden

HOW TO REACH PLANTENTUIN MEISE / MEISE BOTANIC GARDENS
How to reach Plantentuin Meise / Meise Botanic Gardens by car from Brussels: It is super easy to reach Plantentuin Meise/ Botanic Gardens of Meise by car from Brussels. 
Brussels Centraal to Plantentuin Meise distance & route: 12km via Atomium on A12 (towards Antwerp)
How to reach Plantentuin Meise / Meise Botanic Gardens by public transport from Brussels: It takes a bit of extra time to reach Plantentuin Meise by public transport. Meise is located just outside Brussels City Region. The farthest to which the Metro goes is Roi Boudouin (served by STIB MIVB metro route M6) and the farthest to which tram goes is Heysel (served by STIB MIVB tram route T7), the stop just before Roi Boudouin. From Roi Boudoin, take the DeLijn bus route 250, 251 or 260 which drops you right in front of Plantentuin Meise. DeLijn Tickets can be bought with the DeLijn App.

PLANTENTUIN MEISE / MEISE BOTANIC GARDENS TICKETS
€9; There is also an annual pass available at €37.
Both day-tickets & annual passes can be bought online from the official website of Plantentuin Meise.
Free entry with Museumpassmusees and Brussels Card. However, the timeslot has to be pre-booked via the official website. 

PLANTENTUIN MEISE / MEISE BOTANIC GARDENS TIMINGS
Meise Botanic Gardens opening hours:
9:30AM to 5:30PM (last entry 4:30PM) in winters (Oct-Mar)
9:30AM to 6:30PM (last entry 5:30PM) otherwise (Mar-Oct)

OTHER POINTS TO NOTE
The entire space is stroller-friendly and wheelchair-friendly.
All the toilets have diaper changing facility.

English Bridge Plantentuin Meise Botanic Garden

Meise Botanic Garden Flemish Brabant Pinterest Meise Botanic Garden Flemish Brabant Pinterest

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

11 comments:

  1. How have I missed this place in all my times of going to Bruxelles???? I never even heard of the place and now I want to go here and check it out. My kids would loving running around here. I am also loving the moated castle, which gives the place character and doing walks through the woodland area is the sort of thing I like doing. Defo want to visit here. Now...as I live in London I think its time to check out Kew Gardens, still havent got round to doing that.

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  2. I can remember visiting a botanic garden as a child with my parents one time. It was a small, paved-path garden that I thought was so boring... but it does not compare for a second to this botanic garden! I can only imagine what it would have been like to run through here as a child, and now as an adult to be able to appreciate the beauty of natural things. Would love to visit here!

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  3. I had no idea that Meise Botanic Garden - National Botanic Garden of Belgium is such a huge area. It's awe-inspiring and beautiful. I would love to visit it during my trip to Brussels. Meise Castle of Château de Bouchout looks like from fairy tale. Such a photogenic and charming place. I add it to my bucket list.

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  4. I love the baby shots! We have a botanical garden in the suburbs of Delhi. But it's not half as lovely as this one. This is such a rich, lush green holiday. Maybe, one day, I will see it for real instead of virtual.

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  5. Wow! What a beautiful botanical garden - I wish I knew this place existed when I travelled to Brussels. This looks like a perfect day trip, and especially a great place to bring kids. :) That is so cool how there is a moated castle right in the gardens. I'll definitely make sure to make a visit to this place next time I go to Belgium.

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  6. OMG I couldn't help smiling while reading your blog about this botanic garden. You can't imagine my jealousy for that baby sitting on a gigantic Victorian waterlilies. This place is so serene, very relaxing, and I love discovering new plants, and make a mental note where I could buy them!

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  7. Wow it is such a beautiful place. I love being with nature and now repent how I missed out on the Botanical Garden when we were in Brussels. Loved the tour through your eyes and pictures. Just awesome.

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  8. Wow! I love to visit the greenhouse of the Meise Botanic Garden. It is fascinating that they made 13 different climatic zones. I did not realize there is so much to see and do here. Will definitely include this in our itinerary. Saving your post for future reference.

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  9. I love that it's attached to a castle. And those water lilies are AMAZING! I had no idea they ever got that big. I always love visiting botanical gardens in different cities. They're so interesting!

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  10. Looks like a lovely place to visit! #MustSeePlaces

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  11. Meise Botanic Gardens sounds like a fantastic day out for kids. So much to do. The waterlilies are enormous. It's no wonder everyone wants a baby shot here! #Mustseeplaces

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