What an amazing display of Begonias. You are looking at an obscene amount of flower blooms. Millions of begonias blooms are used in this complicated floral carpet design in Brussels. This is amazing! Why begonias? Chosen above all for its qualities of robustness, resistance to bad weather and strong sunshine the begonia guarantees the long life and freshness of the carpet. It also provides a rich range of colors – from vivid colors to delicate pastel shades. Craftsmen arrange the carpet by hand, directly onto the square’s cobblestones, without any soil. Grass and tree bark were also used to give color. For those of you who would like to learn more, I have provided the history of the Brussel’s Flower Carpet and information about the process of this blooming event.
Officially, the first Floral Carpet as its present-day form was created in 1971 on the Grand-Place by the landscape architect E. Stautemans, but, in fact, it was the culmination of a whole series created in various towns in Flanders.
E. Stautemans, who was born in Zottegem, and graduated from the Ghent Horticultural College, had been experimenting since the early 50’s making simple small carpets, more like rugs, mainly consisting of begonias (in Knokke, Oudenaarde, Sint-Niklaas, Lille…).
He very quickly realised that floral carpets would be an excellent vehicle for the promotion of his beloved begonias which he had always worked with, both technically, economically and aesthetically.
After years of attempts and calculations, this architect, who was inventive and imaginative, and knew how to make the most of the numerous resources of begonias, became an expert in the creation of superb floral carpets with sophisticated colors and complicated designs.
His fame spread and he was asked to make carpets not only in Belgium (Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Ypres, Courtrai, Hasselt, Tongres, Mons, Durbuy, …) but worldwide (Cologne, Hamburg, Luxemburg, Paris, London, Breda, Amsterdam, The Hague, Vienna, Valencia, and as far afield as Buenos Aires and Colombus, Ohio).
Some of these carpets were bigger than the ones created in Brussels (77 x 24 m), like the 1973 masterpiece at Sint-Pietersplein, Ghent that reached a gigantic 164 x 42 m.
However, as E. Stautemas himself says, “Nowhere is the carpet more beautiful and distinguished than in the unique, ancient surroundings of the Grand-Place in Brussels”.
Making a Carpet
The actual making of the Carpet is based on a plan worked out in advance, consisting of several stages.
Everything starts, often a year in advance, with projects and scale models, illustrating a commissioned theme (such as the commemoration of great events, or the arms and shield of a town, and sometimes the proposals of local horticultural associations).
Once the theme has been produced in representation and symbol, the number of flowers and color combinations calculated and the outlines finally drawn on the ground, then the work starts.The skilful, dedicated work of a hundred experienced gardeners and their enthusiasm enables them to put together this giant floral jigsaw in under four hours.
The day before, the spaces between the floral patterns will already have been filled with rolled turf. (photo prep 1) Did you know – that the flowers are packed together one by one, 300 to every square meter of the ground, (+/- 750.000 flowers!) so tightly (no soil is used at all) that they won’t be blown away by the first puff of wind, and create their own microclimate? In heat waves, the turf has to be watered to prevent it from shrinking, but if the weather is too wet, the grass can grow 4 to 5 centimeters in 3 days? The wonders of nature!