Gare Maritime – The gardens

Forest bathing at a micro-level, that’s possible along the green boulevards in Gare Maritime. Here, you’ll find ten inner gardens with high-growing trees. All the different plant species grow and bloom with the seasons. There are four themes to discover in this green zone. Start exploring … the flower garden.

“Il y a des fleurs partout pour qui veut bien les voir.” – Henri Matisse, artist

There are flowers everywhere for those who want to see them. Flowers are at the front and centre of this colourful and fragrant garden. Both trees and shrubs display their splendour in all shapes and sizes during their flowering period. If you come and visit regularly, you’ll often find different kinds of blossoms, as our plants have been selected in such a way that the various flowering periods follow each other as closely as possible. Be sure to keep an eye out for the different types of insects in all our gardens. Their natural predators are literally left outside, so the insects can enjoy a luxurious life inside. To prevent an insect infestation, we place repellents two to four times a year and every winter, the trees are treated with dispelling agents. These measures are entirely ecological.

A sea of flowers close to the ground

In autumn, the Sycoparrodia semidecidua’s leaves turn to different colours. By the end of the winter, in February, this particular shrub drops its leaves and grows red-brown flowers. They’re the first blossoms of the year.

Bell-shaped yellow and pink flower clusters adorn the redvein enkianthus, Enkianthus campanulatus, from May onwards. Its leaves turn deep red in autumn.

Large plume-shaped flowers in white, pink, red or purple grow on the exotic looking crape myrtle or Lagerstroemia indica from summer to autumn. Take a look at its stem, too. You’ll notice that its bark is peeling, to reveal what’s underneath. That makes for an attractive play of brown-grey and pink-brown colours.

Extraordinary trees with extraordinary flowers

The Robinia x margaretta ‘Pink cascade’ produces beautiful purplish-pink flowers in clusters that can reach 15 cm in length. They can be admired in May and June.

The Magnolia grandiflora “Gallissonière” bears its ivory flowers throughout the summer, from July to September. Did you know that a magnolia’s flowers are edible? They have a mild ginger taste.

... in the fragrant garden

“By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world” – Dr. Qing Li, expert in forest medicine.

Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Focus on the scents of the different plants in this garden. Do you recognise them? Can you detect them elsewhere in the Gare Maritime? Do they evoke a certain feeling? Or maybe a memory? In June and July, you can discern the strong fragrance of the blossoms on the Gleditsia triacanthos f inermis, the only high-growing tree in this garden. It’s an interesting tree to admire and to smell. Its leaves are bronze-red at first, but turn green and yellow in autumn. After its flowering period, this tree is even more striking: it grows pulses, measuring up to 40 cm in length.

This is not a Tree

The Pistacia lentiscus – or mastic tree – is not really a tree, but rather a large shrub. Its flowers are not the only fragrant part, the flecks of resin that occasionally appear on its bark also have a pleasant perfume.

Similarly, the Osmanthus burkwoodii or sweet olive is rather a shrub than a tree. This species can, however, grow quite tall. During its flowering period from April to May, this plant boasts bunches of small white flowers that give off a sweet scent.

A shrub reminiscent of oranges

From April to May, there’s a sweet scent of oranges in the air, although you won’t find any orange trees here. The white, star-shaped flowers of the Pittosporum tobira, or Australian laurel, will have you confused. Incidentally, this is the only plant in the Gare Maritime that is known to roll its leaves.

An early bloomer

The Sarcococca hookeriana “Humilis” , the Himalayan Sweet Box starts blooming in December and keeps its flowers until March. Its creamy-white flowers are quite sweet, almost honey-scented. The low shrub then grows black berries.

... in the grassy garden

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.” – Walt Whitman, Poet” 

You’ll be transported to a Tuscan landscape, where a light breeze is all it takes to make the grasses dance. No less than six different types of grass grow in this garden, and they all look slightly different every season. The grassy landscape is interspersed by mediterranean-looking cork oaks (Quercus suber). These trees have particularly striking trunks: they are jagged and have with deep grooves. The bark can be used to make shoe soles or wine corks. Thanks to the combination of the rigid ornamental grasses and the rugged trees, this grassy garden is the most contrasting of all the green areas in the Gare Maritime.

The Deschampsia family

One member of this grass species, Deschampsia cespitosa “Goldtau”, is often used in dry flower bouquets. This ornamental grass shoots up during its blooming season, from June to October. The grass produces beautiful green to yellow coloured plumes.

The Deschampsia cespitosa “Bronzeschleier” looks at least as beautiful as its namesake. It is a medium-sized evergreen grass that flowers from June to August.

The Molinia family

Molinia caerulea “Moorhexe”, a member of the purple moor grass family, provides a spectacular play of colours in autumn. Its blue-green leaves turn orange-brown, while the purple-brown panicles take on a rather yellow colour.

In autumn, the leaves of the Molinia caerulea “Heidebraut”, turn to straw yellow, complementing the autumn palette of its namesake. The “Heidebraut” subspecies grows taller than its other family members: a mature plant can measure up to 1,5 meters.

From green ... to blue

Hakonechloa macra “Aureola”, Japanese forest grass is a multi-coloured ornamental grass bearing arching leaves. This plant, which looks slightly similar to bamboo, exhibits a variety of green hues. It blooms in late summer, producing airy sprays of flowers. The leaves develop orange tints in autumn.

De Sesleria heufleriana is also known as blue-green moor grass. This is a small ornamental grass with narrow, upright, spiky and rough-haired foliage that turns blue to green-grey with a silvery underside. It flowers from April to May. The flower spikes are cream white, slowly changing into dark purple.

... in the forest garden (shade garden)

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” – Henry David Thoreau, essayist

Despite the large expanses of glass in the renovated Gare Maritime, it does remain rather dark in some places. A shade garden thrives in such a section. The canopy cover will let little light reach the ground. Low, shade-loving plants will prosper in this environment.

The Montpellier maple

The Acer monspessulanum was first discovered in the south of France. Its name is derived from “Mons Pessulanus”, the Latin name of the city of Montpellier. It is a small tree, typically growing on dry, sloping or even rocky land in the Mediterranean region. Its dark green, glossy leaves turn a striking yellow in autumn. This tree flowers from the end of April to the beginning of May, when its yellow-green flowers give way to samaras, often referred to as whirlybirds or helicopters.

The Spanish Oak

The Quercus hispanica “Wageningen”, a variant of the Spanish oak, is a semi-evergreen tree which occurs naturally in Southern Europe. This oak produces golden-yellow catkins in May, which develop into oblong acorns.






Design credits: