The Belgian Azalea, a distinctive species of rhododendron, has transcended borders, finding its way to various countries, with France being a prominent market. Among its various varieties, the Ghent Azalea stands out, captivating both plant connoisseurs and enthusiasts.
Originating from China, Taiwan, and Japan, the Belgian Azalea made its way to Belgium in 1774, courtesy of the visionary Ghent gardener Judocus Huytens. This marked the beginning of a flourishing period for the flower trade and floriculture in Ghent. The establishment of the Society for Agriculture and Herbology in 1808 laid the groundwork for the renowned Ghent Floralies.
|Picture by Pixabay
In 1839, Louis van Houtte, a court builder from Gentbrugge, published a catalog showcasing 97 varieties of the Azalea Indica. He not only shared his knowledge with fellow gardeners but also trained skilled workers and master craftsmen, contributing significantly to the growth of azalea cultivation.
What propelled the azalea to success in Ghent? The region's soil, coupled with the city's conducive environment, provided an ideal breeding ground for the plant. Proximity to the city, robust infrastructure, and favorable climate, soil, and water conditions proved instrumental in its cultivation. The temperate maritime climate, in particular, emerged as highly suitable for azalea production. Additionally, azaleas predominantly thrive in needle substrate and forest land, resources that were abundantly available in the region.