Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wood anemones in Foret de Soignes, Brussels

Today we went to Foret de Soignes just outside Brussels to witness the spectacular yearly show put on by wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa). Foret de Soignes is one of the few pieces of old-growth forests left in Belgium. Here, even forests that look natural are generally man-planted and managed. Back in the Middle Ages, Foret de Soignes covered a vast area. Now, it's much smaller by comparison, but at 44 square kilometers, it's still very large by Belgian standards. On a nice day like today, which was uncharacteristically sunny and warm, it's full of walkers, bikers and horse back riders.

Wood anemones carpet forest floors across Europe every year in early spring, before the big oaks and beech trees start to leaf out. And every year, they put on an incredible show - the simple, pure white blooms are quite beautiful on their own, but when grouped together by the millions as far as the eye can see, they are spectacular. You have to get the timing just right though, because the blooms are very short lived. Once the big trees start to leaf out, the show is over. We couldn't stop taking pictures of them, but I'm not sure if they do them justice. It's hard to also capture the warmth of spring sunshine, the smell of fresh air and the incredibly loud and excited birds.

And to finish off the day, you can also enjoy a nice piece of home-made pie at the cafe in the old cloister at the edge of the forest, and check out the horse back riders going through the cloister courtyard.

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