Botanic Garden Meise has a new attraction: walking on the water thanks to ‘Island Garden’ (Meise)

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In the Botanic Garden, the new Island Garden was inaugurated by Flemish minister Jo Brouns (CD&V). The new garden is formed by a group of islands with various orientations and levels and creates a range of aquatic biotopes, which can only be visited via a 430 meter long meandering walk on the water. Cost: 1.2 million euros.

In the heart of Boechout Garden Meise is a small island in the middle of the pond of Boechout Castle. “An ideal place to house a new botanical collection with various water, riverbank and marsh plants and trees from all over the world,” says Scientific Director of Public Works Koen Es of the Botanic Garden. (read more below the photo)

The impressive water features of the Botanic Garden. — © Jan De Wilde Drone image

“The winning competition design by Gijs Van Vaerenbergh architects in collaboration with Atelier Arne Deruyter suggested that the project be realized in two conceptual steps. For example, a 430 meter long meandering concrete platform was poured through the island. By pouring directly on the existing island and on 142 deeper steel pile foundations, one large structure was created in a simple way that crosses the entire water garden. The existing island served as formwork for this path.”

Archipelago

According to Koen Es, the excavation and raising in various places subsequently brought the water into the original island. “The island thus changed into an archipelago of various islands,” says Koen Es. “It became a microtopography of levels just below and above the water surface, creating a broad spectrum of diverse aquatic and swamp biotopes: a mangrove, a fern moss, an alder swamp forest, a Japanese water garden, an indoor pool, and so on. ” (read more below the photo)

The inauguration has attracted many interested parties. — © Botanic Garden Meise

During the opening, Flemish Minister of Work, Economy, Innovation and Agriculture Jo Brouns (CD&V) emphasized the scientific importance of a living collection of aquatic and marsh plants. “The Meise Botanic Garden has the ambition to make a substantial contribution to the conservation of plant species for the future with a living collection of aquatic and marsh plants,” the minister explained.

“Developing and managing this living collection imposes very specific horticultural and logistical requirements due to the ecological and cultivation requirements. With the surrounding water bodies and the sunny location, the new Island Garden of Botanic Garden Meise offers the ideal starting situation for developing an attractive and sustainable water and marsh garden, which can accommodate a rich collection of plants.”

Tourist destination

“With the Eilandtuin, the Botanic Garden Meise is once again an attraction richer. The Botanic Garden is on the rise as a tourist destination. In 2021 there were no fewer than 227,689 visitors, a record. In 10 years, the number of visitors has more than doubled and the Botanic Garden is on track to attract 250,000 annual visitors by 2025.”

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