Josaphat Park: a place where you can catch your breath, slow down the pace, take a stroll and play outdoors. It is a large area, with a varied and hilly landscape that is covered in rich vegetation. We invite you to discover it on a little tree-to-tree tour. This walk begins at the centre of the esplanade where the park’s bandstand is located.
Transit >>> You'll find the bandstand when you enter the park from the rue des Azalées. Follow the arrows to the right. Along the way, you will already pass by some spectacular plane trees. At the water’s edge, you’ll also see a beautiful weeping willow. From here, the sound of the traffic is sometimes drowned out by birdsong. Take the path downhill to your left. Continue straight on towards the esplanade: this is where the first tree on this walk awaits you. It’s monumental: you can't miss it. This is a plane tree.
This London plane tree is one of the largest in Brussels. It majestically spreads its crown above a pretty meadow (dotted with flowers). It makes up one of the many pockets of biodiversity to be found in this park. This rather wild area, near the forest, offers protection to the roots of this giant. Roots that enable it to communicate with other trees all around the esplanade…
*Transit >>> As you leave the plane tree on your left, just past the path, you'll find a second noteworthy specimen: the common hornbeam. Thick branches grow from its short, stout trunk. They stretch out over the path and gently brush those of the plane tree.
Transit >>> Pass beneath the hornbeam and take the path to the right towards a nice tavern where you can stop for a break. On your right, you will then pass a white sculpture. Follow the path straight ahead, and right next to a white birch, you will find a holly bush. This special bush resembles a cocoon - despite the spiky leaves. When the sun shines, it creates an interesting pattern on the carpet of dried holly leaves on the ground.
A bit further, you'll come to a fork with a dark grove at the centre: it's a small group of 7 yew trees, whose main branches are completely intertwined. These 7 specimens form a veritable network. It is a strange-looking formation: something like an octopus with many tentacles.
Transit >>> Head away from the hill. At the fork, take the left-hand path (not the one to the right, which crosses the lawn). A bit further, on your right, there is another, solitary yew tree. It is taller than the yews you have just left. But its branches also curve towards the ground, like the long train of a gown. Once you have passed this striking individual, you will see a gigantic chestnut tree. A hundred people could shelter beneath its foliage!
Finally, a bit further, you will come upon a maple. It's at the edge of the grass, at the intersection. Its crown gracefully shelters the lawn and the path. This tree was one of the witnesses to a large gathering of people from around the world who came together to reflect on the future of humanity.
Transit >>> Continue towards the pond. Let yourself be guided by the murmur of the water from the fountain that you can hear in the distance. Pass the pond on your left. On the other bank, you will see a pretty dovecote surrounded by a small cluster of trees.
A bit further, you will find a tulip tree at the edge of the water. Its branches curve out as if to create a better reflection in the water, as well as at the edge of the path. Don't miss the spectacle of its golden yellow leaves in autumn, its large flowers that resemble tulips in pale yellow and orange in late spring, and its curious fruits in summer.
Transit >>> A few steps further, you will come to a fork, where a hornbeam grows. Three trunks sprout from its massive base. This tree projects an image of strength. Its gnarled, ‘muscular’ looking surface attracts the eye. This is one of the traits that make hornbeams recognisable in any season. The hollows in this particular specimen seem to be home to many animals.
Transit >>> Across from the hornbeam, at the edge of the pond, a bald cypress grows. Ivy climbs along its trunk and the sunlight plays off its foliage of feathery needles. Viewed against the light, it resembles finely woven lace.
It wears a coat of soft green in springtime and rust-red in the fall. In winter, it goes bare. What a pleasant atmosphere it creates along the path.
Transit >>> Continue straight on and you will pass the playground. Keep it on your right.
At the corner of this play area, you will see the sculpture of a mother nursing her child. Just beyond the statue, you will come to a small bridge. Pass by with the pond on the left. On the opposite bank, you will see a huge tree. Its silhouette stands out clearly on the horizon. In spring and summer, its leaves flutter at the slightest breeze and shimmer in the sun.
This ‘giant lighthouse’ that overlooks the park is a Canadian poplar. We will go around the pond to get a closer look, but in the meantime, you can admire it from afar. (Keeping the pond on your right)
Along the way, you will come across a rocky landscape of the type that was very fashionable [in the early 1900s] last century.
The road becomes a footpath: flat rocks allow you to cross the water. There, at the end of the pond directly above you, clinging to the top of the small rocky cliff, is a very large Vancouver fir, also known as the grand fir.
Transit >>> Next, continue on your way towards the Canadian poplar. Get up close to this stalwart veteran. You can read about its history in the entry below and see close-ups of its bark, leaves, and the fungus that ravages it. Stay on the path, as this old tree loses branches from time to time. Stop for a moment to admire it, feeling the wisdom it exudes. This majestic specimen is reaching the end of its life: it may no longer be around in a few years.
Transit >>> You have just passed a lovely alley with several benches. Two rows of alders line the path. It is the perfect spot to stop to drink in the atmosphere of the park and reflect on the sensations from your walk.
Transit >>> And then, gradually, get ready to return to the city. The walk finishes at the end of this path, at the top of the stairs that lead to I‘avenue du Général Eisenhower.
One final curiosity, a giant Sequoia, awaits you a little bit further, at the entrance to the park, across from the white house at no. S3.
This colossus grows on the border between the city and nature, as if standing guard between two worlds. Which of the two do you choose? It's up to you whether to continue on your way, or go back and continue exploring the park.