EXPLORED_ Jardín Botánico Canario

Botanical Garden of Gran Canaria - Hannelore Veelaert for Au pays des merveilles

While I’m already counting down to my next vacation (only 11 days until I’m cruising around Ibiza in a camper!), I wanted to share my last photos from Gran Canaria with you.  As a lover of all things botanical, a visit to the Jardín Botánico Canarian obviously made it on my to do list.  This garden was the life work of Swedish-Spanish botanist Erik Ragnar Svensson, who spent many years searching for a site where all of the highly diverse plant species of the Canary Islands could grow successfully.  (Gran Canaria alone has a wide variety of microclimats and both forests, deserts, beaches and volcanoes, so you can imagine the huge diversity of vegetation when looking at all of the Canary Islands!) He finally settled on a steep slope close to the capital of Las Palmas, resulting in a lushious garden dwindling down the slope along narrow pathways and staircases. My sister and I spent our day admiring the enormous cacti in the Garden of Succulents and, well, Cacti, bumping into surprises like a waterfall, caves and places with names like “The Road of the Dragons” and “The Fountain of the Wise”, wandering through the Garden of the Islands and the Garden of the World  and discovering the Hidden Gardens inside cute greenhouses.  With its 27 acres, approximately 500 different plant species and over 10 000 cultivars of succulents, the botanical garden of Gran Canaria definitely is one of the most beautiful gardens I have visited, and I’ve visited my fair share!

Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo, Ctra. del Centro, Km 7, 35017 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain - website 

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FRAGMENTS_ jardins fontserè i mestre

Before we started our 50 km roadtrip, Eline and I first had to drive our car from the airport of Barcelona to our hotel in Girona.  To make sure we had the best possible experience during our first drive with the prius plug-in hybrid, the toyota team programmed a scenic route into the GPS.  We drove along some of Barcelona’s most impressive views, but there was one in particular where we could not resist to make a quick stop.  When we spotted the lushious vegetation and interesting architecture of the Jardins Fontserè i Mestre, we just had to pull over!  Unfortunately the greenhouses were closed, so we didn’t get the full experience, but I did manage to snap a few photos that convey the atmosphere quite well.  Definitely a place that should be listed in my city guide for Barcelona!

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FRAGMENTS_ botanical garden in Cologne

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It’s no secret that I’m rather fond of botanical gardens, so it shouldn’t surprise you that when I planned to visit Cologne, the first thing I looked up was if the city had a botanical garden.  Wandering through the lush gardens, exploring its stunning greenhouses and reading while enjoying these exotic vies turned out to be a perfect way to spend my afternoon.   What can I say, I just never get tired of botanical gardens!  So here are a few fragments of Cologne’s most peaceful hideaway, hopefully this dose of greenery brightens your Sunday!

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INSIGHTS_ Miguel & Lisa

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When I arrived at the front door of this Brussels based couple, Miguel en Lisa were still on their way home and I had to wait on their doorstep for a while.  Luckily the sun was shining and the duo had a good reason for being late: the plant and flowers they bought on the market turned out to be rather difficult to transport on their bikes.  The sunlit apartment they inhabit is a Walhalla for plant lovers, but these two always have room for another green friend.  With huge windows on both sides of the living room and their green fingers, it’s no surprise that plants thrive in here.

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EXPLORED_ Hart en Ziel in Antwerp

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When you step into Hart en Ziel, a brand new concept store tucked away in Antwerp’s most diverse neighborhood Borgerhout, you can’t help but smile at the abundance of green and beautiful objects.  And then you haven’t met the lovely owner Gitte Van Tilborg yet, who’ll surely bring a smile to your face.  After 15 years, she decided to follow her dream and open a concept store, filled with heart-warming and often handmade objects.  The result is appropriately called Hart en Ziel – that’s dutch for heart and soul – and offers all kinds of cute plants, greeting cards, naturally tanned sheep skins, home accessories and soon also flowers and furniture.  Hart en Ziel has something for everyone, for every budget and always with a story.  It’s still a work in progress, but  after only two weeks, it is already the go-to place for neighbors who need a gift for a loved one or who want to treat themselves.

But Gitte has bigger dreams than merely selling pretty things.  In the future, you’ll be able to follow workshops about drawing, knitting, mindfulness and anything that’s good for the heart and soul.  Moreover, artists will be able to display their work, use the back of the store as an atelier and meet their potential customers at the same time.

During my visit to Hart en Ziel, I’ve fallen in love with this beautiful new addition to the neighborhood, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  If you’re as excited as I am about this hidden gem in Antwerp, I’ve got good news for you! We’ve decided to treat one lucky reader to the plant hanger (including plants!) at the bottom of this post.  Keep an eye on my instagram today to find out how you can win this eye catcher!

Hart en Ziel, Laar 12, 2140 Borgerhout - website - facebook - instagram

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EXPLORED_ The Barbican in London

EXPLORED_ The Barbican in London - by hannelore veelaert for au pays des merveilles-24When Lies and I visited London, we ran into a picture of the Barbican Centre’s Garden Room on a viny sleeve that immediately sparked our interest for this botanical walhalla.  In the ever growing list of botanical gardens that I’ve visited, this one definitely is my favorite.  Besides its beautiful collection of plants, the Barbican Estate is also an architectural highpoint.  Designed by British firm Chamberlin, Powell and Bon in the 1950s, this complex houses 2014 apartments, a library, several restaurants, two schools, a museum, several theatres, an art gallery and much more.  Curious yet?  I’ve prepared an overload of photos for you below, but I recommend you just visit this place yourself if you’re ever in London.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS - website - facebook - twitter

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EXPLORED_ Kruidtuin in Leuven

EXPLORED_ kruidtuin in Leuven - by hannelore veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Even though I’ve lived in Leuven for more than 5 years, I somehow never managed to make it to the Kruidtuin, the city’s botanical garden.  When I recently spent a weekend in my student city with my friend Paulien, we had to pay a visit .  Leuven’s botanical garden is the oldest in the country, dating back to 1738, when it was founded by the university for its medicine students.  Nowadays the garden with its beautiful greenhouse and orangery is the perfect spot to escape the city, take a relaxing walk between the plants, have an indoor pick-nick in the orangery or simply enjoy the sun and the view on one of the garden’s benches.  A must if you’re spending some time in this city!  If a visit to Leuven isn’t for the near future, you can discover more botanical gardens I’ve blogged about here.

Kruidtuin, Kapucijnevoer 30, 3000 Leuven - website

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COLLECTION_ plants

collection_ plants via au pays des merveilles

From your reactions to the posts in my “insights” series, it is evident that you love plant filled spaces as much as I do.  That called for some extra inspiration!  I’ve collected other beautiful collections of plants, ideas on how to incorporate them into your own interior and pretty plants that easily survive.  For more inspiration, take a look at my pinterest board here.

  1. Airplants and terrariums from phyt., get them here.
  2. Photographers and founders of Have a nice book Salva López and Yosigo combined plants with bricks and wooden crates in their home.  More photos by Silvia Conde and an interesting interview with the duo here on the freunde von freunden site.
  3. Amsterdam plant shop Wildernis, find out more here on the binti home blog.
  4.  Nicole Valentine Don posing with all her plants.  More photos by Luisa Brimble here.
  5. Macramé plant hangers from Modern Macrame, learn how to make them here or buy them here.
  6. Retro wire plantstands by Modern Amsterdam, get them here.
  7. Folliage wall by The Merrythought, more photos here.
  8. Backdrop with hanging glass jars and succulents, find out how to make it here.
  9. Loopholes by atelier belge serves as an awesome home for plants.  More info here. (photo: @estalldesign)

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EXPLORED_ Jardim Botânico in Lisbon

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The Jardim Botânico in Lisbon is one of those place that doesn’t need a lot of explanation.  After our brunch at Tease, Miguel, Lisa and I enjoyed a peaceful walk in the city’s botanical garden, where the gigantic trees offered us some refreshing shade.  With an entrance fee of only 2 euro’s, it’s a must visit if you feel the need to escape the heat in the city!

Jardim Botânico, Rua da Escola Politécnica 54, 1250-102 Lisboa - website

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SUNDAZE_ Lies Mertens

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Sundaze is all about that Sunday feeling, with no obligations, only endless possibilities.  Whether your day off is on an actual Sunday or any other day of the week: everybody knows and loves that feeling.  In this topic, I document inspirational people on their day off.  How we spend the day is up to them, no obligations, remember?  Through this topic, I intend to see the city through their eyes, but also find out a little bit more about what drives this person in their daily life.  The first person to offer a peek into her life, is Lies Mertens, a 25 year old graphic designer and leather accessory designer located in Antwerp, but with a lot of love for travel.

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