Spring blooms: Pick your own flowers and more in Belgium
After what seems like the worst spring in Belgian history, temperatures are finally rising – and one way to celebrate is by decorating your home with beautiful fresh flowers.
To do this in a sustainable and eco-friendly way – the country abounds with pick-your-own flower sites. There are around 50 in Brussels and Wallonia, including three in or near the capital.
Opportunities in Flanders that do not require a seasonal subscription include addresses in Sint-Martens-Bodegem (De kleur van hier an nu) and Bruges (Pluktuin). Centres in Aartselaar (Bens Bloemplukweide), in cycling distance of Antwerp, and at Ferm Bio in Zemst, also feature seasonal fruit – the latter also offering farm fresh tomatoes and vegetables.
A bouquet of 20 flowers will start from about €10. Payment is normally per bloom and some producers also accept bank transfers.
You can also go to places focusing on fruit picking that offer flowers in peak season. One big favourite in Brussels is Anderlecht’s popular Fruit Time near the beautiful Neerpede nature reserve.
You can choose your bouquet whenever the mood takes you as the sites are normally open daily from early March until the end of October. The principle is simple. For example in the Ferme du Chant des Cailles site in Watermael-Boitsfort (pictured), rows of seasonal flowers from asters to zinnias await along with cutters, a money box and information on how much your treat will cost. It's not just about flowers. This bucolic place also features a farm shop, sheep, goats and Sunday afternoon family activities.
Indeed, all the sites, many linked to farms, are lovely places to go for a walk, enjoy the blooms and relax. “We start the season with narcissus in March. Then comes tulips, lilies and peonies in the spring; sunflowers, gladioli and dahlias in the summer,” Maximilian Bommers, manager of Nivelles-based Be Flowers told RTBF.
The concept, imported in 2007 from Germany and Switzerland, favours producers of local, seasonal flowers: “Eighty per cent of flowers you find in traditional flower shops come from the other end of the world,” explains Brussels-based sustainable florist Amandine Maziers. “These flowers are not only transported by plane, which increases their ecological footprint, but cultivating them also requires an enormous amount of water and pesticides.”
The pick-your-own floral sites, mainly situated along main roads and advertised with ‘Pick Your Own Flowers’ signs, also reflect Belgian farmers’ desire to diversify in a difficult profession. As Delphine Virendeels, owner of ‘Les Champs de Fleurs de Delphine’ at Sorinnes told the Dinant-based local television station Matélé, success also relies on honesty, as there is no one in the fields to take your money: “We hope people will come in good faith and be respectful of our work, because it is really work, and an important part of our farming business.”
Photos: (main image) De kleur hier van nu; La Ferme du Chant des Cailles