Happy Wednesday, Plant Parents! This week I’d like to try something a little different. Its something I had been planning to do ever since I started writing this blog, but for one reason or another never got around to doing. It’s going to be a semi-regular type of post that I will try to do once every month or so: “Adventures”. Basically, it involves me going somewhere planty (botanical garden, nursery, plant shop, florist, natural history museum, etc. and writing a little bit about my encounter.
The place I’d like to talk about this week has, I feel, been over-due for some time. After visiting this nursery this past Monday (Family Day, here in Ontario) I had such a great experience that I knew I had to feature them in some way: Belgian Nursery on Highway 7, between Kitchener and Guelph.
I grew up in a rural setting, about a five-minute drive from Belgian. We always had flower and vegetable gardens, and as I’ve written about in the past, my grandmother kept a number of houseplants. Every spring we would make a quick trip to the nursery and pick up our annuals, baby vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, etc) and the odd perennial to fill a hole, or to add to what seemed to be ever expanding perennial beds.
My birthday is in May, so this trip usually ended in me getting to choose a plant of my own as a birthday gift. I harbor very sentimental memories of time spent with my mom and dad at Belgian, as well as newer memories—just this winter I took Alex (my husband) there for the first time. I could tell his enthusiasm for the trip was not as great as mine, but he was happy enough to tag along as I was clearly so excited to show him one of my favorite places.
Belgian has a MASSIVE selection of tropical plants, and even has an entire greenhouse dedicated to cacti and succulents. Right now, in fact, they’re hosting their annual Cactus Festival, where all their cacti and succulents are 20% off until the end of February. I’ve even purchased my collection’s first succulent: a Burro Tail succulent. Alex had been interested in getting one, and since they were on sale, I figured it was the best time to try one out!
But while the Cacti House is beautiful (It’s all landscaped and they have plants ranging in size from 1” pots to people-scale) it’s the tropical plants that I’m there for. Belgian has one main building that holds (usually) larger tropical houseplants and some pottery, and then a smaller room to the left of that main section that holds the smaller sized tropicals. I spend most of my visits in the smaller room, as I am trying to only collect small versions of things as I am a) interested in observing the growth patterns of juvenile plants and b) running out of surface area to put any larger plants.
I would say at this point, about 80% of my plant collection has come from Belgian Nursery. They are regularly getting new stock in, and their buyers do a decent job of keeping their eyes on the trends. I do find some of their stock to get a little steep in price, but I would happily pay more for a plant that I know has been taken care of by people who know and love plants.
And love plants they do. On more than one occasion I have overheard an employee either on the floor or at the cash talking with a customer about the care for a particular plant, or even just sharing in the excitement of acquiring a new plant, and you can tell by the tone of their voice that they really do have a passion for plants, like many of you reading this do. One day I’ll get over my awkward shyness and maybe strike up a conversation with one of them. Maybe. Probably not any time soon though. Perhaps they’ll find my blog. I think that would be good enough.
So yeah, in summary, this place is great. It also happens to be right on my direct route home from work, so it is my little haven on the days that didn’t go so well. There’s nothing quite like taking twenty minutes out of your day just to browse some little green leafed friends in a familiar and comforting setting such as Belgian Nursery. If you live in the area, or even if you have any reason to come visit the area, I do suggest a stop in at this stunning nursery. This year they are also celebrating their 60th anniversary, so why not come celebrate with them? If you’ve been before, go again. Wish them another 60 years of prosperous business. I will certainly keep doing my part to keep them financially afloat, especially if they keep bringing in such cute peperomia cultivars.