“In the West, cherry trees are mainly known as fruit trees, in the East they are ornamental trees”, the Arboretum tells us.
“In Japan, the first spring bloom is accompanied by a spectacular folk festival, in some places thousands are planted.”
To find the cherry trees in the Arboretum, a booklet accompanying the mapped out cherry tree route explains the most special specimens. The oldest trees were planted by Robert and Jelena De Belder in the early 1950s, they introduced many new selections for the first time.
An arboretum in a general sense is a botanical collection composed exclusively of trees. More commonly a modern arboretum is a botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants and is intended at least in part for scientific study.
The term arboretum was first used in an English publication by John Claudius Loudon in 1833 in The Gardener’s Magazine but the concept was already long-established by then.
Since 1856, more than 7,000 plant species from all over the world have been collected in the 12.5 hectare arboretum.
You see something new every season. Winter is a special time, when the witch hazels bloom, the largest collection in Europe. Regardless of cold or snow, they provide unique, sweetly scented flowers in warm colors.
In autumn they show a beautiful color spectacle together with the Japanese maples. In spring cherry trees and apples bloom in abundance, a cloud of blossoms! In the summer, the butterfly garden in particular attracts attention.
Antwerp arborist Charles Prosper Van Geert (1817-1896) started a pla ntation in Kalmthout in 1856. He had the masion built and the company was known as Vangeertenhof.
After his death, the enterprise became the Société Anonyme Horticole de Calmthout.
After World War II, George and Robert De Belder saved the domain. Robert’s wife Jelena Kovačič transformed the garden in an international scientific institution. King Albert II made Jelena de Belder-Kovačič a baroness.
It was my first visit to the Arboretum. Frank and Albrecht are fans, but I had never visited.
Little, faded signposts lead the way to the cherry blossoms, although these arrows are not always clear.
The Arboretum is bigger than I expected. I spent some two hours there.