World through my eyes
In its 20th year, the world famous floral carpet of Brussels will be decorated in the colours of Japan to celebrate its expertise in floral art. This year, Japan and Belgium are celebrating their 150th anniversary of friendly relations, established in 1866 with the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation. On this special year, Japan has been given the honour to be invited as guest country to the world-famous Flower Carpet in Grand Place.
The 2016 flower carpet is showcasing nature in Japanese tradition with its numerous good luck talismans: flowers, birds, the wind and the moon are symbols of the natural beauty (Kacho-fugetsu); Koi (Japanese carps) represent strength and growth; pine trees and bamboos are signs of good omen; and the cherry blossoms, of course. This ephemeral tapestry will be made up of 1,800 m² of begonias.
The Grand-Place has always been an ideal setting for the Flower Carpet. Every two years, in the middle of August, this tapestry of stone-weaved lace perfectly complements the splendid floral patterns. This ephemeral fusion contributes to the repute of European Capital, which reaches well beyond its borders. Artists, craftspersons and volunteers have all strived to draw, sow, harvest, organise and arrange hundreds of thousands of flowers.Without their dedicated contribution, such a masterpiece could not exist.
The Flower Carpet is culturally inclusive and, as a result, attracts a broad range of visitors, far beyond just flower enthusiasts and local residents, with foreign tourists travelling from far and wide to enjoy the exceptional view from the balcony of Brussels’ Town Hall. During the last Flower Carpet event in 2014, the hotel occupancy rate in the city reached a record 95%.
Visitors will be able to admire this stunning creation from 12 to 15 August 2016 in its every detail, whether from floor level or from up high on the balcony of the Brussels Town Hall.
Two Flower Carpets in Tokyo on the theme of ART NOUVEAU
The city of Tokyo will be hosting the 11th “Brussels Days” from 16 to 20 May 2016. Over the course of a few days, business leaders, managers and politicians will visit the Japanese capital in order to forge econo
mic and commercial links between Brussels and Tokyo and to celebrate 150 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Belgium. To mark the occasion, two flower carpets will grace the city of Tokyo. The style of these two temporary tapestries will be inspired by the inventiveness, rhythms, colours and curves of Art Nouveau. This art movement, born of the creativity of famous architect Victor Horta, previously served as inspiration for the 2004 Brussels Flower Carpet.
Flowers in Japanese culture
An island country spanning from the sub-tropical Okinawa to the freezing cold of Hokkaido, Japan has distinctive four seasons that give it a remarkably rich variety in vegetation. The flowers’ transient, seasonal beauty evokes admiration as well as pathos. From ancient times, the Japanese culture has evolved to capture their beauty of impermanence in various artistic forms.
Of the 4500 short poems of Man-yo-shu, the first collection of poems in Japan compiled in the 8th century, a third use plants or flowers to express the author’s feelings of love, hope, anguish and nostalgia. The roots of today’s Hanami, marking the arrival of spring and often celebrated with cheerful sake drinking under the Sakura in bloom (cherry blossoms), can be traced back to more than one thousand years ago. In Japan, Hanami is regarded as the cradle of many artistic forms; poems were created and Kabuki and Noh (Japanese plays) were performed with the elegant fall of white cherry petals as background. Ikebana, bonsai culture, gardening and other forms of flower arrangements demonstrate the importance of horticulture in Japanese daily life.
Chrysanthemum festivals in autumn are popular cultural entertainments since several centuries, often with ornamental displays of the flower such as in the shape of ships and dolls. The crest of the imperial family is based on chrysanthemum. Japanese Emperor organizes spring and autumn garden parties and invites guests.
A few figures
The flower carpet is 75 m long and 25 m wide – that’s more than 1,800 m² of begonias! It takes two years of work to get the flower carpet ready: the team has to reserve the hundreds of thousands of cut flowers it needs a very long time in advance. The Flower Carpet is a huge challenge both aesthetically and logistically. The weather conditions, the number of visitors, the route through the Town Hall, and the schedule all play a vital role in ensuring its success. Around 600,000 flowers are required, sitting shoulder to shoulder in order to create the patterns, texture and nuances of a carpet unlike any other.
The begonia fields are located close together in a single region of Flanders. For several months, twenty-odd flower producers will plant and cultivate their begonias in order to obtain the exact colours and quantities needed to bring the Flower Carpet to life. When the time comes, these horticulturists will pack and transport the flowers as quickly as possible so as to ensure that they last the length of the event.
The flowers need to stay fresh and radiant for four whole days. So how is this done? Just before it is unveiled to the public, 100 volunteers create the carpet’s design on the ground in the Grand Place. They are guided by a life-size design laid out over the Grand Place’s cobblestones. The design is drawn on a micro-perforated plastic sheet that is fixed to the ground on top of a thin layer of sand.
This year the Flower Carpet will be composed of 600,000 begonias as well as dahlias, grasses, and strips of tinted bark which will come together to create a fleeting tapestry inspired by Japanese elegance.
Flemish Begonia : Unique in the world
With its long flowering period, broad range of colours, variety of shapes and suitability for borders and patios alike, the Flemish begonia has many strengths, which are the result of years of tradition and craftsmanship. No wonder that the Flemish begonia is a success as far away as Japan and America.
Flanders is the world’s leading producer of tuberous begonias, thanks to a rich tradition of seed selection and tuber production. Every year, over 30 million tubers are exported to Europe, North America and Japan. Begonia cultivation is chiefly concentrated in East Flanders, and more specifically in the region around Ghent. Selection companies are continuously looking for new colours and flower shapes. The most popular types are the double begonias and the hanging varieties.