Friday, July 11, 2008

Tapis de fleurs de Bruxelles

While I was researching Brussels carpet for my recent Independence Day blog post, I came across another type of Brussels carpet. Located in - where else? - Brussels, Belgium, this is a carpet made not of fiber, but of flowers. One million flowers.

I'll let that sink in for a second.

The Brussels flower carpet was first created in 1971 by E. Stautemans, a landscape architect. According to The Human Flower Project (an interesting initiative in its own right), he wanted to promote the begonia, a flower heavily cultivated in Belgium. In 1986, the flower carpet became a consistent tradition and can today be viewed in Grand Place, the very center of Brussels, for three days every two years. After Stautemans passed away in 1998, another landscape architect by the name of Mark Schautteet began designing the carpets and continues to do so today. After the design is complete, one hundred gardeners meticulously execute it the day before the flower carpet display officially opens, using Begonia blossoms of the brightest, boldest colors.

This year's carpet will be on display from August 15 - 17, 2008. Sadly, the begonias won't live any longer than those three days.

An article from the Dallas Morning News describes the creation of the Brussels carpet like this: "On the day the display is assembled, workers spread the plastic onto the cobblestones. Next, gardeners roll out strips of grass between the motifs. The turf adds green to the design and lets gardeners walk on the carpet while preparing it.

Gardeners pack the blossoms tightly into the design – about 300 flowers per square yard – so that they aren't blown away by wind. If the weather is hot and dry, the turf must be watered."

You can even watch a time-lapse video of the creation, display and removal of the 2006 Brussels flower carpet on YouTube:

Or, enjoy some vibrant photos of the carpets from 2002, 2004 and 2006 here. Each year, the designer chooses a different theme for the carpet. This year, the design is inspired from 18th century French carpet. And in addition, other flower carpets will be on display in Leuven, The Hague, Ghent and Seneffe at the same time as the Brussels carpet.

If you have some time on your hands (and some money in your pocket), throw caution to the wind and travel to Brussels for a few days. Enjoy dining al fresco as you admire the color, beauty and lush "fabric" of the Brussels flower carpet, as well as fireworks, lights and music on the carpet's opening night.

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