The Ornamental Gardens
THE FRENCH GARDEN
The gardens fenced with high hedges at the main entrance were renovated by landscape architect Jules Janlet in the years between 1913 and 1917. Four of the many colorful flower beds were kept and planted with tulips and Salvia's every year. The remaining space is occupied by long lawn strips with scattered boxwood bulbs and decorative vases with a beautiful perspective on the façade of the castle.
Three terraces have been laid out from the south-east façade of the castle, which gradually descend and form, as it were, the pedestal on which the castle was built. They were redesigned in 1990 by the Antwerp landscape architect Jaques Wirtz. The terraces are bordered with blue stone and decorated with vases. A tight drawing of lawns and surfaces of dolomite grit, lined with shaved yew, replaces the nineteenth century beds with annual flowers. A round pond and the pots with Oleanders soften the strict lines. Roses bushes have been planted along both sides of the terraces like large flower shrubs and the old planes, holly and yew trees, which are pruned in large cloud forms, can be seen on the back plan.
THE SMALL ROSERY
Behind the high hedges of the erekoer is to the left of the castle a garden room which is now called the small rose garden. This was given its destination only in the 2Oth century, after the children of Countess Nanda d'Ursel had outgrown the sandbox and she herself was concentrating on the collection of historic garden roses. The central figure is an amor figurine on a pedestal and against the wall there is a semicircular water bowl with a fountain.
THE CHINESE GARDEN
In de Chinese tuin of ’tuin van Suzanne’ kan men een eigenaardige chinoiserie admire: a voluminous laughing Buddha in polychrome wood carving from the end of the 18th century. The image is from Liège-made to the example of a small porcelain that was in the castle. The image is movable: head and hands move through the pressure of the wind; mockingly the image also sticks out the tongue. The garden is divided in two by a central narrow water channel. The flagstones are a typical addition to the nineteenth century. After the renovation by countess Stéphanie d'Ursel in 2006, special plants of oriental origin were collected here.
THE GARDEN OF THE PRINCE
This garden on the sunny side of the south-west wing of the castle owes its name to Prince Bishop Velbrück, who overlooked this garden from his apartment. The garden has a typical French layout in 16 equal flower beds, based on a design by Jules Janlet. The beds are planted annually with aromatic summer flowers. Two classics that always come back are the fragrance arboronium 'Charity' and the blue salvia 'Victoria'.
In the prinsenhof we also find some special roses that are the origin of the famous rose collection on Hex. These are rose bushes that grow on their own roots and have been here since the end of the 18th century. The Rosa indica rubra, the Rosa 'Old Blush Hex' and the Rosa chinensis multipetala were brought back by the East India Company from China.
In the extension of the prinsenhof and the Chinese garden is the former donkey meadow. Nowadays she is maintained as a flower meadow and short-cut walking paths run crosswise through the plot. This meadow is caged once a year. A young planting of lime trees from all continents promises a beautiful linden forest for future generations. From the walking path along the meadow you have a beautiful view of the lower garden, the village and the surrounding landscape.
THE BEES GARDEN
When you leave the vegetable garden along the gate at the back you will come across a surprise: a small romantic valley, enclosed between the brick garden walls. The beehives shelter under the pans. Two coats of arms of the prince-bishop adorn a rustic watchtower. Tradition has it that under this monument is the grave of Velbrück's favorite mare. The name of the mare was Venus.