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Flowers By Tarra

Petals cover Brussels square in carpet of flowers

The Associated Press

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Some 700,000 begonias will cover Brussels' main square beginning Friday to form a flower carpet of vibrant colors, a big draw to the Belgium capital that happens every other year but will wither and brown by the end of the weekend.

Scarlet red, pure white, sunshine yellow, salmon pink and bright orange begonias were being pressed into the intricate pattern of a 17th-century French carpet, balanced by the darker shades of purple dahlias, green grass and brown soil.

"It's much more difficult than previous years when there were bigger motifs," said volunteer Lieve Verplancke, one of 80 people who spent a day wedging the flower heads firmly into the twists and curves of the design. "But it's very pretty."

Work started Monday -- the laying of a plastic covering over the square's cobble stones and the tracing of a pattern for the volunteers to follow. Supervisors went round Thursday checking that the right color petals were being laid into the proper forms of flowers, crosses and acanthus leaves.

The flower carpet blossoms on the Grand Place every two years with different patterns ranging from the elegant arabesques of Art Nouveau and the latticework of Brussels lace to the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Brussels by the World War II Allies in 1994.

The city's mayor ordered the first flower carpet in 1971, copying those laid by begonia growers in smaller Belgian cities. By the late 1980s it had become so popular that the city organizes it as a biennial event.

It now attracts up to 100,000 tourists, with many of them lining up to see the entire pattern from the bird's eye view above the square in the city's Gothic town hall.

Belgium is now one of the biggest exporters of begonia tubers, sending most of the flowers it grows abroad to the Netherlands, France and the United States.

posted: August 10th, 2008

Petals cover Brussels square in carpet of flowers

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