600,000 Flowers Used to Create Colorful “Carpet” Stretching Across 1,800 Square Meters
For a few fleeting days earlier this August, an exquisite ephemeral carpet of fresh flowers graced the cobblestone at Grand Place, the central square in Brussels, Belgium. Spanning 75 meters long and 24 meters wide, it consisted of 1,800 square meters of begonias carefully interspersed with dahlias, grasses, and bark, with each square meter containing about 300 blooms. Together, the bright blossoms rendered an elegant tapestry of Japanese-inspired motifs, appearing from a distance like a magnificently vibrant woven rug.
The creation was the 20th iteration in a bi-annual tradition, launched back in 1971 and displayed at the Grand Place since 1986. Every other year on August 15th, Belgian nonprofit Tapis de Fleur has assembled a group of professional artists (including illustrators, graphic designers, and landscape architects) to develop a large-scale floral design around a different timely theme. The team calculated the number of blooms and the color palate required, then reserved the stems far in advance. Several days before installation, the blueprint was marked on sheets of plastic overlaid on the ground before its final completion in a mere four hours with the help of about one hundred volunteers, who pack about 600,000 total flowers into the expansive artwork.
This year’s composition was designed to celebrate 150 years of Belgo-Japanese friendship, commemorating the original Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation that the two countries signed in August 1866. In tribute to traditional Japanese themes, the wind, moon, birds, and flowers represented natural beauty; the koi fish symbolized strength and growth; and the bamboo and pine trees signified positive omens. Cherry blossom renderings were included, too, as crucial emblems of Japanese cultural tradition.
As always, the carpet lasted about four days before the petals and leaves began to wilt. From August 12-15, visitors were invited to climb the adjacent Town Hall’s balcony for a wide-angle panorama or to walk on ground level, enjoying a nightly concert and light show for a multi-sensory aesthetic experience enhanced with the fragrance of fresh flora. After four days, the petals and leaves began to wilt as they always do—but you can still see photographs of the transitory tour de force on the official Flower Carpet website.
Photo: Charles Lecompte