Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Laeken Royal Greenhouses - A Glass City

For a few weeks every Spring the Belgian Royal Family opens up their palace grounds and royal greenhouses to the public. I had heard about this “city of glass palace greenhouses” on and off since arriving, so I knew it was something not to be missed. It is supposedly hailed as the very best plant house in all the world! Dallas met us on a Thursday morning and we were there as the Laeken Royal Greenhouses opened. We took the metro and it was an easy hop, skip and a jump from our house.
We really didn’t know what to expect. I overheard a guide in the first greenhouse say to her group that there were 11 glass greenhouses on the tour and I was stunned at the size and proportion of it all. Eleven?!? I was expecting one! Imagine walking into a florist and then multiply that tenfold and that was what we smelled on tour. The plants and flowers were complex and simple; colorful and lush; common and exotic. The walk through the glass palaces was like a building symphony with a crescendo of – of all things geraniums and pink hydrangeas. Strange, I know. But it was honestly one of the most beautiful displays of color I have ever seen.Connor of course loved the royal flowers. She had the “smell the flowers” command down pat. And it was so precious…most of our fellow visitors at 10 AM on a weekday morning were senior citizens. We let Connor out of her stroller for some of the exhibit and I overheard one of the elderly men saying in French “Regardez, une autre belle fleur!” (Look, another beautiful flower!) He was referring to my sweet Connor, comparing her to one of the lovely flowers surrounding us. I had to agree. She ate up the attention from the others and danced among the plants and flowers!
The only thing I thought was a downer was the realization that all of this beauty was open to the public for only a couple of weeks each year. The expansive green grounds were spectacular and seemed to need people and life rather than the stiff, empty formality of royalty to liven them up. I need to learn more about the Belgian Royal family. I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t know much about them or their purpose in Belgian government and history. The pomp around them as compared to the British royal family is minimal. But they sure do have a breathtaking home though. And oh, those flowers!!!

No comments: