The Grand Place in Brussels is one of the world’s largest and most spectacular squares and is lined with wonderful period buildings. In 1971, the first Flower Carpet was created within the Grand Place by E. Stautemans, a landscape architect. A graduate of Ghent Horticultural College, Stautemans often experimented with making carpets and rugs out of flowers and he had a particular fondness for begonias.
Following years of practice, Stautemans was an expert in the creation of wonderful flower carpets which had sophisticated patterns and amazing floral colours. Size became an issue which is why Stautemans decided to create the most fantastic flower carpet in Brussels, surrounded by much of Brussels’ ancient architecture in Grand Place.
Each year, the flower carpet covers over three hundred square metres and involves the use of over eight hundred thousand begonias. Within the carpet design are several fountains that spout water onto the blooms to keep them fresh in the hot August sun for four days. Once the carpet is finished, the result is almost beyond what the eye can take in.
The multicoloured flower carpet creates a truly incredible centrepiece in the Grand Place and within the design are often figures recreating scenes from myth and folklore.The night before the launch of the amazing flower carpet there is a sound, light and fireworks show which is almost as spectacular as the flower carpet. For a small fee, it is possible to watch the fireworks display from the town hall on the first floor.
The planning for the flower carpet design starts at least a year in advance and includes creating a scale model. Often a theme is commissioned which may include celebrating a great historical event or the Coat of Arms of the City of Brussels. Once the theme and design has been agreed, the number of flowers required has to be worked out and colour combinations carefully conceived. The physical work of creating the flower carpet is undertaken by at least one hundred skilled gardeners who assemble the various floral combinations, like a giant jigsaw puzzle, in fewer than four hours. Before the floral displays arrive, the spaces between the various patterns are filled with turf.
There are more than three hundred blooms per square metre, tightly packed so that they cannot be blown away, with turf unrolled between the various floral sections. Every year, the flower carpet is completely different to what has been laid before and every year it never fails to draw an incredulous breath of awe.