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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Royal Greenhouses Laken: # 1 of 5 - 2014

In May 2014 during a very brief visit to Belgium I  was fortunate enough to be there during the single week in the year when the Royal Greenhouses at Laken are open to the Public. So of course I decided I had to go, because the first and only time I went was around 2006 and I did not have a camera with me. So this time I made sure I had my camera, spare batteries and extra SD Cards.

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You can get to the Royal Greenhouses in Laken by bus, tram or car. There is a bus that stops directly in front of the Main Gate whereas if you take the tram you will need to walk a bit. I did not mind walking because you got to see some other plants along the way. But I saw and elderly couple who had to stop and rest before continuing when they were making their way back to the tram stop so, if you cannot walk for long periods or have people who cannot walk and /or stand in line for hours ... I would suggest first of all bringing some sort of portable seat for elderly people especially that way they can rest a bit since there is a lot to see and you there is a long line.

Orange trees outside the entrance to the Orangery
 First you need to get your tickets. I noticed some clever people who came as a group send one person in to the throng to buy the tickets and pass them to the others afterwards. The police did not seem to mind and let them through. It certainly helped speed things up. So if you are going as a group I would advise this.
Once you get past the ticket booths you have to go to where the visit / tour starts which is The Orangery. That is the big greenhouse where orange trees are kept during the winter. In spring and summer some are carried outside while it appears that they leave some inside. Everything is roped off so you just need to keep walking in one direction.

 In the Orangery there are some shrubs and the orange trees but most of it is roped off as that part is the exit. So you get shunted off through a side passage that leads to a couple of connected greenhouse passages. But before you start that way ... there are toilets available near the entrance inside the Orangery ... My advice is go before, because although there is another set of toilet facilities later on it is a while away.
Part of the side passage leading from the Orangery to a mid sized Greenhouse (looking towards the Orangery
 When you get to the mid sized Greenhouse you will be able to see the Great Rotunda off to the left and straight ahead will be a box hedge maze. Unfortunately that is blocked off. It is not exactly a real maze but more like a formal French Garden type layout of hedges around a walkway grid with some formed into tunnels with a fountain as the centre piece the the geometric footpath grid. You can see the centre piece from two locations. One being as you exit the greenhouse and the other when you come to it later and are at right angle to the entrance. That is the line from the entrance/exit to the fountain and the fountain and you will be a right angle.
The mid sized (unused) Greenhouse you can see the maze ahead
 When you walk out you walk between the greenhouse and the hedge onto a sort of large open area which maybe a parking or driveway. Directly ahead you will see the Palace of Laken while to the right you will see the arm that connects the Palace to the Orangery and the whole Greenhouse network.
View of the Rotunda from one of the greenhouses

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· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters):
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· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) :

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