Apr 19, 2009

Bloomin' Brussels

Whoever says Brussels is a grey city has never visited in springtime! From window boxes to parks, the capitol is in full bloom with a bouquet of color sure to change the mood of any naysayer. Under the canopy of trees along Avenue Tervuren, the lima bean colored leaves born over the last few weeks cast a green tint to the air and sidewalk, giving the sensation of swimming beneath a sea. This time of year also heralds the opening of gardens, some public, some private, all spectacular. The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (serres) open their doors for only three weeks a year, in April and May, and visiting is like falling down Alice's rabbit hole into wonderland. Geranium leaves the size of my open hand, fuscia plants suspended like little dancing fairies and flowers in all the colors of lifesaver candies. If there was one sight to see in Brussels, the Royal Greenhouses, built by King Leopold and on the property of the Royal Palace, would be it. Some of the trees and plants date back 100 years and the surrounding acres make you forget you're in a thriving city. South of Brussels in the forest not far from Waterloo, the bluebells have arrived. There is nothing like strolling along the majestic purple carpet that glows beneath the newly greened trees and lashes of filtered light. My friend recently went with me to see the tulip gardens at the Castle of Grand Bigard, just outside of Brussels. She started to skip when she saw them. "How can you not be happy around all these flowers?" she asked. It's true, so I skipped too. Rows and beds and mounds and hollows of tulips in every size were omnipresent and ablaze with color. We bent and laid ourselves in the wet grass to smell them, and may have even tip-toed through a few, just because. Some were scented, but it was the hyacinth's sweet perfume that convinced me that spring had really arrived. On days like today, in bright and colorful Brussels, there is nowhere else on the planet I'd rather be, or skip.

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