Although not exactly known for its round-the-year tropical climate, Belgium boasts its fair share of specialist plant shops (Bamboos from Courcelles anyone?), sprawling garden complexes, neighbourhood markets and boutique nurseries that cater to both purists and amateurs alike. Here, we reveal 21 of our favourite addresses.
1. Little Green Shop
Sarah and Nico are a lovely couple that decided to open their own business in 2014. She was a store manager and a personal shopper, he was a social worker for Samu Social for 10 years, in charge of Fedasil. Their passion for plants means that, according to Sarah, they have more than a hundred at home. “Our specialty is definitely the creation of bouquets, with a country-rustic, somewhat alternative, natural style. We only sell flowers and plants that we love, plants that we would also have at our place.” In addition to their shop’s plant tangent, The Little Green Shop is also the perfect place to have a cup of coffee or, better yet, brunch with friends.LittleGreenShop.com
2. L’Ilôt Fleurit
At L’Ilôt Fleurit, “on se la pète pas”, as the owner says. His store on Place Jourdan is a small, cutesy shop surrounded by such Brussels institution as Au Vatel, Maison Antoine and of course the European Parliament. According to the owner, a lot of Eurocrats, expats and politicians shop here, especially for romantic reasons. What’s more, most of their stock also come from countries such as Ecuador, Ethiopia and Israel, keeping their price points relatively accessible.
3. Pépinière de Boitsfort
We couldn’t make a list about pots and plants and not mention one of the biggest and oldest places in Belgium. Pépinière de Boitsfort has been a classic ever since it opened back in 1949 when Albert De Taffe decided to renovate an abandoned field on the city’s outskirts. After almost 70 years of loyal service, the sprawling complex now boasts everything you can possibly imagine: Shrubs, house plants, aquatic plants, perennials, bamboos, a gorgeous cactus selection … The list goes on. They even have a little place outside surrounded by roses and climbing plants where you can sit, relax and take in some fresh air. An idyllic little piece of nature in the middle of Brussels. And still one of the cut’s best.PepiniereBoitsforts.com
4. Rouge Pivoine
You can spot Rouge Pivoine from miles away; it’s like a jungle in the middle of Chaussée de Waterloo. The first thing that caught our eye were the pots made out of dead trees. And the shop’s selection of cactiwas also left an impression. After a quick chat about plants and the origin of pots, we talked about how important and transformative the former could be for some people. With a simple touch of green your life could be better: “When you buy a pot for 150€, it’s an investment for life. You can’t put a price to the joy that a plant can bring to your home.” Word.
5. Marché du Midi
The place where we got our first ever plant. And the same can probably be said for half of the city. Every Sunday, people go to the street market to buy food, clothes, books, vinyl and also plants. Prices are not high and you can find a large variety of indoor plants and outdoor annuals right beneath the train tracks.
6. Groene Droom
From the outside, this place looks like it just opened a few motnhs ago, but in fact the Groene Droom exists since 1996. Founder Yunus is a passionate florist who first started off as an apprentice in 1988 and, after several years of working as an employee, decided to open his own shop with with his partner and husband. In 2003, they did a major refurbishment, adding some space and size with the opening of their Pots & Plants section. The imprint sells an average of 250 different plants divided in three categories: interior plants, hydroculture plants and terrace plants – everything from Cactus, Beaucarnea, Crassula, Yuca, Citrus plants and more. And if your place needs redecorating, Yunus can help too. A must.
7. De Groene Oase
After working as an accountant and financial officer for 25 years, Luc was looking for a new direction. In 2013, he became a full-time employee in the shop his wife Marie-Ann was running since 2007. They both have a botanical education in Geel and Antwerp and, to stay up to date, follow several workshops each year to learn new techniques. Their motto is simple: “a thing of beauty is a joy forever”. Which made naming his favourite plant particularly tricky: “It’s impossible to answer that question. But if I have to choose, I would pick the Phylodendron Xanadu, Muelenbeckia Maori, Peperomia and Rhipsalis. A tip for readers in search of the ‘Made in Belgium’ seal of approval: The shop sells some exclusive pottery from some Belgium brands such as Domani and Atelier Vierkant.
8. PIET Moodshop
Despite the old-school, vintage storefront, PIET Moodshop offers modern interior accessories, design objects as well as a fine selection of plants. For owner and interior designer Christophe Verbeke, plants add the final touch to your decoration. Prices are very accesible here, which is always a plus in a student area. “We are always looking for new and special things, I also try to stay an affordable place for everybody.” The shop specialises in cactuses and succulents plants, which are both low maintenance species, and his favourite plant is the fairly rare Pilea Peperomiodes, also know as the Chinese money plant or the pancake plant. But better not put any syrup on it.
9. Bambou du bois(C) Eva Donckers
What looks like a regular house from the outside is actually a little store filled with nothing but green goodies. Bambou du Bois, located in the vicinity of Charleroi, is a handcraft nursery that specialises in all types of bamboo. Bernard Dubois who founded the shop with Marianne Gandibleu back in 1995, says of his love affair: “I’ve always been attracted by the world of plants, especially bamboo. It was love at first sight, I was fascinated by the fast growth of the species.” And, just like the plant it nurtures, the nursery is constantly evolving and trying to find new species. An absolsute must for ‘wow’ effect.
10. Frédéric Gabriel
Frédéric is one of those old school plants lovers who started when he was 18 years old. Following graduation, he decided to take the big step of opening his own business with one, very simple founding principle: “We grow our own plants”. And that’s exactly what they’ve done since day one, specialising in perennial plants, bushes, different type of grasses and also little fruit trees. The nursery caters to every budget since it stocks everything from little plants to large trees. A wonder to walk through and dream.
11. Pépinière Le Try
Pépinière Le Try has 26 years of history and its founder Witte Dominique is pretty much a purist. His sprawling space boats more then 250 different kinds of plants and flowers; from classic species to the most exotic plants and trees you could imagine. Plus, every year they have a special open door day dedicated to their favourite plant, the Cornus. Just because they can.
Epimedium – named after a plant that is also also known as fairy wing, horny goat weed (yes, we know: weird.), rowdy lamb herb and randy beef grass – is a place we were rather anxious to visit. What started as a little garden is now a big reference in the area, even though the nursery still looks like a private little oasis of greenery even after all these years. The owner (and her ubiquitous dog) stock a wide variety of greens: grasses, bushes, exotic plants such as maidenhair spleenwort, hart’s tongue, Japanese wood fern and Chinese Lace to name but a few. A beautiful and totally unexpected place just outside Bruges.
Mirte is all about pots. Wooden pots, ceramic pots, porcelain pots, patchwork pots… Pots of all shape and form! But they also have a lot of plants, little ones in particular, like the sedum donkey, succulants and also some cacti. Mirte also participate in a lot of events and exhibitions and if you want to learn more about botanicals they offer a few workshops every year. It’s a conceptual and very modern place with the simplicity and love of a family business.mirte.be
In addition to the 13 stand-outs featured above, here’s a further six spots that deserve a visit:14. Van Uytsel Tuincentrum Pierstraat 276 2550 Kontich florarte.com 16. The Recollection Kloosterstraat 54
therecollection.com 17. Baltimore Bloemen Orgelstaat 6 2000 Antwerpen baltimorebloemen.com 18. Pépinière de la Prêle Chaussée Romaine, 76 4360 Bergilers laprele.net 19. Humor Bennesteeg 19, 9000 Gent humor.be 20. Aquabotanica Ieperse Steenweg 112, 8630 Veurne aquabotanica.be 21. Exotica Nijlense steenweg 268, 2270 Herenthout exotica.be