The Grand Place in Brussels, the capital of Belgium is for a few short days every two years awash with begonias. 2012 is a year on and so the people of the city decided that this year their Flower Carpet, made up of blooms all grown in the Ghent area, would pay a multi-colored tribute to the patterns of Africa.
Brussels was officially founded at the end of the tenth century so it would be forgivable if you thought that this was one of those European festivals that had been going on for hundreds of years. In fact the Flower Carpet’s origin is distinctly modern – it began in the early 1970s when a local landscape artist, E. Stautemans, had his eureka moment.
Over a hundred thousand people are due to view the flower carpet (Tapis de Fleurs in French or Bloementapijt in Dutch) this year, yet that is only the first of a number of facts and figures. There are around 600,000 begonia flowers in the display. It is meticulously designed and all the flowers are brought in on the same day.
Why? Obviously flowers have a short life once plucked and even though begonias can last over a week like this, speed is of the essence. The whole carpet takes only four hours to ‘build’ with a dedicated team of gardeners working like furies to complete it in as little time as possible.
As is compulsory these days, it seems, the opening ceremony was accompanied by a large firework display (rather unnecessary considering the beauty at the feet of the spectators!). The flowers will be on display for just five days after which they will be recycled. So, as we may not get to Brussels in time, let’s go large!