Brussels Flower Carpet Lightens The City With Fragrance

Published August 13th, 2022 - 10:03 GMT
Flower Carpet outside Brussels City Hall
FILE PHOTO - A view of the installation of the annual Flower Carpet, made up with more than 500,000 flowers; mostly with Belgium's famous begonias, laid at Grand Place Square in the city center of Brussels, Belgium on August 16, 2018. ( Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency )

The 22nd edition of Flower Carpet in the center of the Belgian capital opened on Friday amid precautions due to the unusual heat wave.

Following the 50-year-old tradition, a flower carpet measuring 70 by 24 meters is laid on Grand Place, a UNESCO heritage site, on Aug. 12-15.

The festival, which is held every two years, marks the 50th anniversary of the event by reimagining the first flower carpet, titled Arabesque, which was the creation of the Flemish garden engineer and politician Etienne Stautemas in 1971.

“This is a comeback of the Flower Carpet since we couldn’t organize it in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Delphine Houba, Brussels’ deputy mayor for culture and great events, told Anadolu Agency.

Hundreds of volunteers work on the carpet with tons of flowers from early morning “to make it the most beautiful carpet in the capital of Europe,” she said.

Heat wave strikes Belgium

After the pandemic, the Flower Carpet now faces another challenge – the extreme heat.

Belgium experiences one of the driest and hottest summers of its history, with temperatures rising over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) this week.

Karl and Emine, visitors from Belgium and Armenia, also noted that building a flower carpet in this “warm weather that we don’t always have” in this country required extra effort.

But they are very impressed by the outcome.

“It’s the first time for me, wow,” said Emine.

In order to keep the results as beautiful as on the first, the designers had to adjust.

“We switched to dahlias that are more resistant to heat, and also used more painted wood,” explained Annette Katz, who has contributed to the Flower Carpet since 1977 and led the organizer NGO between 1991 and 2017.

In addition to the changes on the flower design, the hosts also prepared a water supply and set up a line of parasols for the queueing visitors.

Although, the Flower Carpet has already survived a heat wave in the country originally known for its mild oceanic climate.

“We lived through a five-day heat wave in 2012 when we had the Africa design. By the end, everything dried, just as if we really were in the African savannah,” Katz joked.

 

Design

Sabine, who came to see the Flower Carpet with her husband and two children from Germany, also loves the sight.

“It is truly beautiful,” she says, stressing “how much hard work it must have taken to build such a big carpet.”

The 2022 design was prepared by the Mexican artist Roo Aguilar Aguado and the Belgian Koen Vondenbusch, who is the festival’s technical director and has contributed to the Flower Carpet for over 28 years.

The two designers spent over 280 hours reconstituting the first Flower Carpet based on the original drawings and pictures of the 1971 creation of Stautemas.

“Most of the flowers are coming from Belgium or the neighboring countries,” Katz asserted.

Following the traditions, dahlias and begonias are at the heart of the decoration which is completed this year with potted chrysanthemums and Japanese spindles.

The Arabesque design, based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing leaves, curls or plain lines, is made with the symbol of the country’s Flanders region, the Lion, and Saint-Patron of Brussels Michel Archangel.

History of the festival

The idea of the festival occurred to Brussels city officials when they saw a flower carpet in the Flemish town of Oudenaarde in 1970.

The first Flower Carpet was laid the year after as a result of the cooperation between the association of Brussels-based traders and the Flemish plant producers.

Stautemas, the president of the latter organization, designed the first carpet and the upcoming ones until 1998, always using in some form the Arabesque motif.

Throughout its rich history, the festival has featured, among others, the design of Turkish and Chinese carpets, and French gardens, and has also paid tribute to the Brussels lace, music composer Mozart and the Belgian-Japanese friendship as well.


© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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