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Say It in Flowers and Colors


Say It in Flowers and Colors

Hundreds horticulturists take part in this fourteenth magnificent Flower Carpet displayed on the Market Square in the heart of Brussels, Belgium. This summer, the magnificent design of its Flower Carpet has drawn inspiration from 18th century French patterns. And yet, it was the armies of Louis XIV that had bombed the city in 1695, destroying 5,000 houses! But one must not confuse art with war.  Stretching out over 21 square feet (2,000 m2), the fresh flower carpet will glow with its beautiful design. This monumental work, an original and ephemeral creation, requires months of design and preparation but has been put in place in just one day. A hundred expert craftsmen follow meticulous plans; each of the begonias and dahlias making up this exceptional tableau has its exact place, in complete harmony.

Last instructions to the workers before to start to place the flowers - Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beLast instructions to the workers before to start to place the flowers - Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beHonoring the Belgian presidency of the European Union. What does this amazing floral composition show you?

On two opposite corners, you will immediately recognize Saint Michael striking down the dragon. This is the protective image of the city of Brussels which was founded over 1,000 years ago. On the other two corners, there is the stylized image of the yellow and blue iris, the emblem of the region. Between the two, there is an evocation of Gothic architecture representing the splendid surrounding buildings. So much for the past.

In the very centre, at three different angles, the elegant EU logo will be displayed. It is the work of Antoine Durieux, a young, 23 year old Belgian designer. It is no coincidence that twelve fountains enhance and refresh the whole ensemble. The chosen number of stars of Europe may, for example, combine four spatial dimensions and the three sacraments. Think of all the other interpretations and applications of this basic “twelve” configuration.

Of course, you can stroll all around this exceptional installation. During the day as well as by night, you will be aware of the subtle variations in colored nuances, fragrances and atmosphere. Enthusiasts from around the world come to admire this marvel.

Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beCopyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beMaking a carpet

The actual making of the carpet is based on a plan worked out in advance, consisting of several stages. Everything starts, often a year in advance, with projects and scale models, illustrating a commissioned theme. Once the theme has been produced in representation and symbol, the number of flowers and color combinations calculated and the outlines finally drawn on the ground, then the work starts. The skilful, dedicated work of a hundred experienced gardeners and their enthusiasm enables them to put together this giant floral jigsaw in under four hours. The day before, the spaces between the floral patterns will already have been filled with rolled turf.

Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beCopyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beDid you know that the flowers are packed together one by one, 300 to every square meter of the ground (+/- 800.000 flowers!), so tightly (no soil is used at all) that they won't be blown away by the first puff of wind, and create their own microclimate? In heat waves, the turf has to be watered to prevent it from shrinking, but if the weather is too wet, the grass can grow 4 to 5 centimeters in 3 days? The wonders of nature!

Ephemeral beauty! Always the same, yet different each time, no carpet is like any other, even if it is always essentially made up of 800,000 begonias ("tuberosa grandiflora"), one of the glories of Belgian horticulture.

The Begonia

The beauty and diversity of all these carpets is largely due to their main component, the famous begonia. Chosen above all for its qualities of robustness, resistance to bad weather and strong sunshine the begonia guarantees the long life and freshness of the carpet. It also gives it is rich range of colors - from vivid colors to delicate pastel shades, with in between, the parti-colored and white flowers which reflect the light so well.

August 12, 2010 - Thursday at 1PM, the trucks are delivering the flowers for the biggest carpet flowers in the world, Brussels Belgium - Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beAugust 12, 2010 - Thursday at 1PM, the trucks are delivering the flowers for the biggest carpet flowers in the world, Brussels Belgium - Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beThis flower, the ideal ornament, which is already traditionally used in pageants and floral corsages, is also much loved by householders who use them to brighten their balconies and windowsills and embellish their flowerbeds. 80 % of the total production of begonias, a native of the West Indies, cultivated almost exclusively in the Ghent area since 1860, is exported. Belgium cultivates 60 million begonia tubers every year, and is recognized as the world's largest producer. The Netherlands, France and the United States are its best customers.

Other natural elements will be called upon to render the more particular colors of this glimmering flower carpet. Dahlias will take the place of blue entrelaces. The green will be grass, and tree bark will render the brown nuances that form the background of the carpet.

Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beCopyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beThis year, the Flower Carpet filling the Grand-Place in Brussels is a tribute to the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

For six months, starting from 1 July, Belgium holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Council is one of the key decision-making bodies within the European Union, being the institution that represents the governments of the EU Member States. The Presidency must organize and chair the meetings of the Council and of all the bodies that carry out preliminary work. It must also seek solutions and compromises both between the Member States and with the other institutions of the European Union. That means organizing approximately 3 000 meetings, most of which take place in Brussels. Already the headquarters of the main European institutions, Brussels is thus for six months Europe‟s capital on two counts!

Biggest flower carpet in the world, Brussels, Belgium - Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beBiggest flower carpet in the world, Brussels, Belgium - Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beBelgium has succeeded Spain and precedes Hungary in holding the Presidency. Together, these three countries form a team Presidency, also known as the Trio‟. In order to provide more consistency and continuity, they have prepared a joint 18-month programe together. They have also adopted a common logo, reflecting this desire for continuity. The logo was produced by a competition open to art and design students held in each of the three countries, and was won by a Belgian, Antoine Durieux, who is a young graduate of the Institut Saint-Luc – ESA (Ecole Supérieure des Arts) [Arts Academy] in Brussels.

The logo, which appears in the centre of the Flower Carpet, comes in three versions, in the national colors of the three countries. It is made up of two linked letters („e‟ and „u‟) to express solidarity and harmonious relations between the Member States. The logo is also the reflection of a modern vision of the EU and its citizens. It looks as if it has been written by hand, inviting citizens to take back ownership of the European project.

Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beCopyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beThe opening show

As a part of the inauguration of the 2010 carpet of flowers, six young singers of the a capella group Brussels Vocal Project will present a recorded selection from their repertoire. They will open with a theme written by Pierre Van Dormael and David Linx entitled "The Art of Love". This ballad, to be included in the ceremony, was performed at the birth of the group. The Brussels Vocal Project will continue with an interpretation of "Too Long the River Deep (San N'Diaye)" from the Belgian jazz group Aka Moon. This lively and rhythmic piece will then lead them to close with the European anthem, "Ode to Joy", rearranged for the occasion by the French pianist Sandrine Marchetti. The group would like to thank the sound engineer, Jasmine Schreuermann, for the quality of the recording to be broadcast.

Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beCopyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beA brief history

Officially, the first Floral Carpet as its present-day form was created in 1971 on the Grand-Place by the landscape architect E. Stautemas, but, in fact, it was the culmination of a whole series created in various towns in Flanders.

E. Stautemas, who was born in Zottegem, and graduated from the Ghent Horticultural College, had been experimenting since the early 50's making simple small carpets, more like rugs, mainly consisting of begonias (in Knokke, Oudenaarde, Sint-Niklaas, Lille…).

He very quickly realized that floral carpets would be an excellent vehicle for the promotion of his beloved begonias which he had always worked with, both technically, economically and aesthetically. After years of attempts and calculations, this architect, who was inventive and imaginative, and knew how to make the most of the numerous resources of begonias, became an expert in the creation of superb floral carpets with sophisticated colors and complicated designs.

The youngest take the boxes of flowers to start to place them on the carpet - Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beThe youngest take the boxes of flowers to start to place them on the carpet - Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beHis fame spread and he was asked to make carpets not only in Belgium (Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Ypres, Courtrai, Hasselt, Tongres, Mons, Durbuy, …) but worldwide (Cologne, Hamburg, Luxemburg, Paris, London, Breda, Amsterdam, The Hague, Vienna, Valencia, and as far afield as Buenos Aires and Colombus, Ohio).

Since its disappearance, the landscape architect has taken over with talent. The carpets of Brussels lace and the Gardens of Versailles have enchanted thousands of visitors since the year 2000.

Some of these carpets were bigger than the ones created in Brussels (77 x 24 m), like the 1973 masterpiece at Sint-Pietersplein, Ghent that reached a gigantic 164 x 42 m. However, as E. Stautemas himself says, "Nowhere is the carpet more beautiful and distinguished than in the unique, ancient surroundings of the Grand-Place in Brussels".

Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beCopyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beThemes of the carpets

1971: 1st flower carpet in Brussels: a garden
1976: Year of the Landscapes, Parks and Gardens
1979: Brussels Millenium
1980: Celebration of Belgium's 150 anniversary
1986: Coat of Arms of the City of Brussels
1988: A Chinese Carpet, inspired by the carpets of the Chinese province of Sinkiang
1990: Year of Mozart
1992: Brussels, Capital of Europe
1994: 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Brussels
1996: A garden "à la française"
1998: A carpet inspired by the semi-nomadic tribes living today in NE of Turkey
2000: Brussels' lace
2002: Versailles
2004: Art Nouveau
2006: Middle Ages
2008: Savonnerie
2010: Europe

Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beCopyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beNew initiatives blossom

This year, there are brand new initiatives including a campaign to get a better idea of the opinion of visitors. They will be able to take part in a competition with a chance to win tourist-themed prizes - vouchers for a night in a hotel, a meal in a restaurant, a drink in a typical café, etc.

Fliers will be distributed to visitors while they are waiting for the panoramic visit to the carpet. Whimsical and highly visible collection boxes will be placed at the exit.

August 12, 2010 - First flowers are placed on the famous flower carpet - Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beAugust 12, 2010 - First flowers are placed on the famous flower carpet - Copyright © Gaston Batistini, Labo River - www.flowercarpet.beThis year, with the tremendous support of and in coordination with the florist Van Maelder of the Grand Place, the B.H.C. Business Association has decided to embellish the houses and shops of the Grand Place in the red and green colors of the City of Brussels.

The Saint Hubert Galleries Business Association will take part in its own way by incorporating a unique theme that will be found in the display windows of every shop in the gallery.

The shops and hotels in the surrounding area also wanted to join in with a major event represented by the Carpet of Flowers of Brussels. For instance, Hotel Amigo has developed a “Flower Amigo Power”  package and the Marivaux will decorate its façade with flowers especially for the occasion.

More information on the website: www.flowercarpet.be
2010 © All photography by Gaston Batistini, Labo River, Belgium

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