The name relates to a group of three countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. We are surrounded by Germany, France, and the North Sea.
We are enjoying a temperate, maritime climate here (many find it a bit too wet and cloudy). Statistically, most of us are in USDA zone Z8, some in Z7.
Camellia japonica cultivars can be grown outside in most parts of the Benelux, as can many hybrids, and cultivars of Camellia sasanqua. In the East, a bit more distant from the sea, many people overwinter them in greenhouses. New varieties and hybrids, with better cold resistance, are being tested by members of our chapter.
Camellia collections in the Benelux
One should be aware that, as yet, there are no ancient (full-grown) Camellias gardens in the Benelux. Until recently, hardly any camellias were planted in the open over here - they were thought to be too frost tender.
Still, a few collections are worth mentioning. Some of them have been planted recently and it will take a few more years before they can be fully appreciated.
- The Royal Greenhouses at Laeken:
One of the oldest camellia collections in the world. Every year, the greenhouses are open to the public during a few weeks in April-May. Normally, the camellia-greenhouse is not accessible, but a large number of plants are then on show in the Orangerie and in the park itself.
- The Provincial Domain Bokrijk:
Bokrijk is a large estate, there is also an open air museum (old Flemish cottages). The camellia plantings are mostly found dispersed in the arboretum (15 ha).
- The Arboretum in the Provincial Property 'Het Leen' (Gentsesteenweg 80, 9900 Eeklo).
One of the few camellia plantings in the open within the Benelux. The Arboretum has more than 800 different cultivars and will be proposed as 'Camellia Garden of Excellence' (click here for more info).
- The botanical garden of Leuven ("Kruidtuin"):
The oldest botanical garden of Belgium. Recently, efforts have started to plant old Belgian Camellia cultivars.
- The Hortus Botanicus at the Free University in Amsterdam (Van de Boechorststraat, 8, Amsterdam).
Some large specimens. Not to be confused with the other Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam (which is situated at the Plantage Middenlaan 2a).
- The Hortus Botanicus in Leiden (Rapenburg 73, Leiden).
Some camellia species can be seen here.
- The Peace Palace in The Hague (Carnegieplein 2, 2517 KJ Den Haag).
In the garden of the Peace Palace, there are more than one hundred large camellia plants.
- The Park Groenenberg at Gaasbeek (Konijnenstraat 172 B, 1602 Sint-Pieters-Leeuw).
The park has a collection of historic Belgian and Dutch camellias, it has also one of the few public Higo-collections outside of Japan.
- The 'Tuinen van de Bloemist' ('Gardens of the Florist') (J. Sobieskilaan and Witte Acacialaan, 1020 Laken).
They are in possession of a historic collection of Belgian camellia's.