The history of Arboretum Kalmthout goes back as far as 1856, when the Antwerp dendrologist Charles Van Geert stared a proving ground in Kalmthout for is nursery in Antwerp. It remained a nursery until 1952, when the brothers Georges and Robert De Belder bought the site to create their private botanical garden. In 1954, they received assistance of Jelena Kovačič, who soon would be marrying Robert. With great taste and expertise, the grounds were transformed into a pleasant and atmospheric arboretum. Instead of the severe formality of traditional botanic gardens with their collections laid out in straight lines, the new owners favoured a natural-looking garden with perennials, creepers, shrubs and trees. Under the inspiring leadership of the De Belders, Arboretum Kalmthout grew into one of the world’s most prestigious botanic collections and one of Europe’s most beautiful gardens. The hundreds of new plants they introduced came from friends and growers all over the world. They collected seeds in the wild and also selected a great number of new cultivars, in particular Prunus, Malus, Pieris, Hamamelis and Hydrangea. In the mid-1980s, Arboretum Kalmthout found itself in “stormy waters”. In 1986 the uncertainty ended when the Antwerp provincial authority bought the site. Since then the property has been enlarged several times and many investments for improving the accessibility for public and visitors have been deployed.