Belgian Nursery Blog

February 20, 2021

Belgian’s Cactus Gardens

No visit to Belgian Nursery is complete without exploring our Cactus & Succulent House. The 5,400 sq. ft. greenhouse, which had previously been used to grow geraniums, has been filled with cacti, succulents, aloe, agave, and other desert dwellers since the 1990s! It’s been a source of pride for all of us, especially owners Rosie and Luc without whom this desert oasis would never have existed.

As you walk by our large cactus gardens, it’s easy to forget how much time and effort went into bringing them to the frozen north. Often customers will point at the ridiculously large barrel cactus and ask “how much for that?” without realizing that not only are they part of gardens that are meant for everyone’s enjoyment, but they’ve been rooting into those beds for so long that they reach several feet below floor level – they are a part of Belgian’s footprint, literally! Read on for other fun facts about our cactus gardens.

Did You Know?

– The dream of a Cactus House began with a vacation to Aruba, where they use large cacti as a substitute for traditional fences.

– The entire floor of the Cactus & Succulent House had to be lowered by 2 feet, but large equipment couldn’t fit through the doors. Over 10,000 cubic feet of soil was dug up and removed by hand through a hole in the wall…during a summer heatwave!

– The cacti in the gardens were handpicked by Luc and Rosie from a grower in California. And that grower had been in operation for 75 years as of 1993!

– When the cactus gardens were planted, most of the varieties were on average 10 to 20 years old. At the time of this post, that would put them between 40 to 50 years old.

– Our towering Euphorbia Wakefieldii (or as we’ve dubbed her, “Killer”) was a bought from another greenhouse owner back in the late 1990s. It’s estimated to be around 100 years old and is still living in its original pot, a metal trash can, because we can’t get her out of it. She flowers almost non-stop all year long, so we figure she’s okay being stuck in a can. In retrospect, maybe we should have called her Oscar?

– We used to have a single giant Mother Agave in the front garden, which in 2017 did the unimaginable and bloomed, like we mean bloomed! Her flower stalk was well over 10 feet tall and was in danger of hitting the glass roof – luckily, it was prepared for this and broke itself off before it broke the glass ceiling. Even in its broken state it was still covered with thousands of tiny blooms, all of which became mini versions of its mother!

And those are just a few of the little tidbits about our cactus gardens. We are very happy to be the custodians of these desert giants, which can be enjoyed by everyone young and old. So in answer to that earlier question: no, the cacti in the gardens are not for sale.

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