From their house to yours, a family tradition continues to grow.
What once began with only one coal heated greenhouse, has today ripened to 24 along with a strikingly colourful perennial centre. Celebrating it’s 60th anniversary this spring, Belgian Nursery has specialized in offering a grand array of gardening options in Waterloo Region. For many in the area, it has become second nature to pay a visit to the beloved nursery in Breslau, in answer to many of their gardening needs.
“We are not a typical garden centre,” says Julie Clancy who helps manage the business and has been an employee for the last 22 years. “We offer a wide selection and specialize in what we offer. We have our local customers but we also have many customers who travel from afar.” For Clancy, the beauty of being at the nursery day in and day out is that it never ceases to be a place of change.
And with four generations of her family continuing the legacy, Clancy has seen many changes over the years. “I grew up here, studying and playing hide and seek in the greenhouse. And it’s funny because now my boys are doing the same,” Clancy said.
Clancy’s sister Rosemary Van Roose and mother, Rosie Lombaert are also proud to be part of the family business. Since marrying her husband Luc Lombaert in 1973, Rosie has seen the business blossom into what it is today. “In the 1970’s, we expanded and in the 1980’s we became more fuel efficient offering a more open concept area. So much has evolved here,” Lombaert said.
In 1959, Maurice and Mary, (Pa and Ma as they were commonly known) arrived from Belgium and at 54 years of age, along with their eight-year-old son Luc, decided to purchase three acres of farmland along with a horse and barn.
They began selling field-grown pansies, perennials, garden mums and gladiolas at the old Kitchener Farmers Market. “Working with plants was just in their blood,” Clancy said.
The 1980’s proved to be real time of transition for Belgian Nursery with significant renovations making the “great greenhouse experience” what it is today. Six wood-frame greenhouses were torn down making way for greenhouses seven through 19. This resulted in one acre of open concept poly-greenhouses which in turn, offers a more convenient destination for customers. “Also, a main feature here is that we are open year-round,” Lombaert says. “And we also grow annuals every year. People can walk anywhere and shop. There are very few places that offer that, a place where they can just walk through the growing area,” Lombaert said. “For us it’s about offering a unique destination.”
And unique it has become, as one can’t help but wander in awe of the vibrant colours and vast array of flowers and plants that greet them.
For Lombaert too, a personal dream became a reality with the addition of a 5400 square foot cactus house.
With a busy spring and summer ahead, Belgian Nursery is thankful as they celebrate 60 years in the community. “We absolutely appreciate our customers. They are the ones who have helped us succeed over the years,” Lombaert said.
And for Clancy, like her parents and grandparents, it remains in her blood too. “I love the life of it all,” she says. “The start of a baby seedling, transplanting it, seeing it in its prime and then finally seeing people all excited about finding their little gem.”