The castle of Gaasbeek is one of Belgian’s great monuments and well worth a visit. Quite often they organise contemporary art exhibitions in the castle and the beautiful park surrounding the park is freely accessible. Lesser known, but nonetheless very interesting as well is the museum garden. This garden was built from scratch in 1997 on the exact location where one could find the old gardens of the castle. The garden is not really an exact copy, but shows you what a 19th century castle garden looked like. Although the garden opened already in 1998, it was only to visit by appointment and in group. Since last month however you can visit the garden individually.
The garden is made up of 6 large garden sections of which one terraced Italian style garden with beautiful view on the castle. This garden is quite formal and also consist of some orangery plants and yew topiary. For me this was, besides the view, not that interesting. Much nicer is the walled kitchen garden that contains some lesser known vegetables like sea kale or cardoon. The four sections are divided by some lovely rose columns, peonies and pyramid pear trees. You can also see some terracotta rhubarb forcers, used to cover rhubarb or other vegetables to limit photosynthesis. This way they encourage the plant to grow early in the season and also to produce blanched stems. The walls and hedges surrounding the gardens give it some kind of micro-climate that limits frost damage to the plants
The real focal point of this garden is the unique and huge collection of espaliered fruit trees. It’s amazing to see all the different shapes and possibilities. I really enjoyed the circle shaped pear trees and the ones shaped into large vases. In another part of the garden you can see an overview of all cultivation practices and why they were used. When you pass the standard fruit tree orchard with old varieties you can discover a hidden shadow garden as well.
So if you are planning to plant some fruit trees in your own garden a visit to the museum garden is really a must. It shows you you don’t need a big garden to plant fruit trees in a compact and attractive way. Espaliered fruit trees have a lot of advantages, but it needs some skill to prune them in the shape you want.
So don’t hesitate to spend some time in the museum garden and surely also visit the castle and park. At the other side of the road you can also visit the Groenenberg park with a nice collection of hydrangea and azalea. Some nice walking routes are also a possibility in the neighborhood.
Museum garden and Castle of Gaasbeek : Kasteelstraat 40, 1750 Gaasbeek, Belgium
Opening Hours : From May 1st until October 31st
From Tuesday until Sunday from 10 am until 6 pm (in October until 5 pm)
Mondays closed (open on public holidays)
Tickets : Available at the castle : museum garden only : 3 euro / combined gardens and castle : 13 euro