About the garden
The history of Arboretum Kalmthout goes back as far as 1856, when the Antwerp dendrologist Charles Van Geert started a proving ground in Kalmthout for his nursery in Antwerp. It remained a nursery until 1952, when the brothers Georges and Robert De Belder bought the site to create their private botanical garden.
In 1954, they received assistance of Jelena Kovačič, who soon would be marrying Robert. With great taste and expertise, the grounds were transformed into a pleasant and atmospheric arboretum. Instead of the severe formality of traditional botanic gardens with their collections laid out in straight lines, the new owners favoured a natural-looking garden with perennials, creepers, shrubs and trees. Under the inspiring leadership of the De Belders, Arboretum Kalmthout grew into one of the world’s most prestigious botanic collections and one of Europe’s most beautiful gardens. The hundreds of new plants they introduced came from friends and growers all over the world. They collected seeds in the wild and also selected a great number of new cultivars, in particular Prunus, Malus, Pieris, Hamamelis and Hydrangea.
Since the mid-1980s, when the Antwerp provincial authority bought the site, the property has been enlarged several times and many investments for improving the accessibility for public and visitors have been deployed. Due to this continuing effort it is one of the leading gardens in Belgium, with one of the most valuable collections of woody plants in Europe. Highlights are the bonsai, the plant fairs, the tomato festival and the snowdrop weekend. No matter what the season, Arboretum Kalmthout is always worth a visit. Enjoy the allure and beauty of the flowers, leaf patterns and structures, or the bark on tree trunks and branches.