Nestled among rolling green valleys and meandering rivers, Domaine Provincial de Chevetogne, about an hour southeast of Brussels, Belgium, was the enchanting setting for the 14th edition of La Fête de Jardins & Loisirs held May 27. Once an aristocratic estate, the centerpiece of this 1,350-acre park is a castle built in 1868, which is surrounded by 12 thematic gardens, a lakefront observation deck, a vast expanse of walking trails that twist through woods and gardens, greenhouses, storybook-themed playgrounds with a rope bridge, miniature golf, tourist train, picnic areas, museums, exhibition center and small farm.
Activities and attractions were scattered throughout the estate during the one-day event that inspired nearly 15,000 gardening enthusiasts and other visitors with lectures, landscape designs, gardening ideas, bridal bouquets, wedding accessories, fusion bouquets, door wreaths, soaps, plants, flowers, roses, shrubs, exotic plants, palm trees, bulbs, cheeses and food.
Luc Noël, television host and gardening expert who has used Domaine Provincial de Chevetogne as one of the back-drops for his show, presented a course on gardening tips and professional know-how. Additionally, more than 100 exhibitors offered workshops and presented perennials, annuals, plants, grasses, flowers, fruits, vegetables, garden tools, garden furniture, herbal and flowering teas, and garden accessories, as well as luxury umbrellas and folding shelters for gardens. Train rides and a music festival were also part of the festivities.
One of the distinguishing features of this event was the floral decoration in the castle arranged by four well-known florists in various themes, such as a flower-filled picnic table, barbecue table and garden party. Students and teachers from the Provincial Institute of Agronomic Education, in La Reid, also brought gardening inside the castle with their hand- crafted floral arrangements.
In the heart of a forest, landscape designers created a walking path more than one-mile long with more than 40 varieties of Rhododendrons and azaleas, hundreds of medicinal and aromatic plants, centuries-old redwoods and other remarkable species.
In other areas of the gardens, three newly installed Chinese pagodas punctuated ponds, walkways and shaded rest areas. The nearby Natural History Museum provided spectators with an opportunity to look for treasures or create their own adventures as they explored the museum while the Nature Extraordinary Museum engaged young explorers with workshops designed to help them discover the wonders of nature. A contest was also held for eight-to-12-year-olds to encourage gardening with children.