The relationship between cities and trees is the focal point for Floraliën’s Leopold Barracks site.

The bleakest of urban spaces can be transformed by the introduction of flowers, plants and trees. Not only that but they moderate climate in built-up areas, counter the urban heat island effect, and have a positive effect on the health and mood of the people who live in city spaces.

Photo: Karin Borghouts

Photo: Karin Borghouts

Green façades are one of the ways that greenery can be brought into built up areas where there’s little space, and living walls don’t even require the strip of dirt you’d need to grow ivy, for example. Using advances in technology, living walls have irrigation systems that ensure plants are well watered and can prosper in these less than conventional environments. The Ornamental Plant Research Centre has created one of these living walls for Floraliën, demonstrating how it can be seamlessly incorporated into a streetscape.

Leopoldskazerne-4-Karin-Borghouts

Photo: Karin Borghouts

The Celts believed that trees were an essential part of life, attributing specific features of trees into human traits. Within the Leopold Barracks, is a Celtic tree zodiac, where you can find out which tree represents your life to gain an insight into your personality and behaviour, and perhaps even to predict the course of your future. Explore a mythological forest of trees, strange creatures, shrubs, and grasses, which all reinforce this sense of connection the Celtic peoples had to the botanical world around them, before getting lost in the 225 square metre laurel maze within.

Photo: Karin Borghouts

Photo: Karin Borghouts

The laurel tree has a longstanding connection in particular to Flemish culture – the oldest Flemish laurel dates back to the 16th century – and is now a protected species. It’s a notable tree from the same family as the avocado and cinnamon trees, and so the Leopold Barracks has taken this opportunity to celebrate the tree’s special significance and symbolism in linguistics, popular belief and medicine.