Located just at the boundary of Flanders and Wallonia, in the municipality of Halle, about 30 minutes south of Brussels, lies the forest of Hallerbos or Halle's Wood in English. From late April to early May a few acres of woodlands on the edge of Hallerbos is covered by a splendid carpet of wild bluebell hyacinths. In the early spring, the forest canopy is covered with leaves, sunlight pours through the branches and turns the pale blue of flowers into a vivid bluish purple. The bluebell carpet spreads as far as the eye can see, circling around the slender trees, running into the valleys and massing around the creeks.
Halle's Wood was once part of the Sonian Forest, Europe's largest beech forest, stretching over the southern part of Brussels. During the First World War, the original Hallerbos was destroyed by the occupying forces, although some ancient oak and beech trees survived the devastation and can still be seen today. After the war, between the 1930s and 1950s, major replanting efforts took place reintroducing the native beech and oak trees. The wild bluebell hyacinths, however, are all natural and have been for centuries.
Aside from bluebells, one can spot tiny wood sorrel, with its cup-shaped flowers and clover-like leaves, and the star-shaped white flowers of ramsons or wild garlic, which can be smelled before they can be seen. The forest has other riches. In spring it’s full of birds - blackcap warblers, wrens and nuthatches are the loudest. There are red squirrels amongst the pines, buzzards in the clearings and tadpoles in the ponds.