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September 13, 2010

Flower Power In Carpets

Flower Carpets have existed for centuries.  They've tied in culture, tradition, and beauty through horticulture.  It's an art form that's as fun to watch as it is to partake in.  Here are a two cultures that have elevated the idea of a flower carpet into something spectacular.

Brussels, Belgium:

The Annual Brussels Flower Carpet was rolled out, so to speak, in the middle of August with a theme that honors Brussels' Presidency over the European Union.  Every year, they pack in about 800,000 begonias and dahlias amidst rolled turf to create gorgeous patterns bursting with color! 

How do they do it? 

Flower Carpet nigh
2010 Flower Carpet in Brussels by night

Flower Carpet Detail 1

Flower Carpet Detail 3
Flowers are individually placed by meticulous hands over a space of almost 20,000 square feet

Flower Carpet Before

Flower Carpet Detail 2
In Progress...

Flower Carpet Day
Completed 2010 Flower Carpet  

 This event started in 1971 when landscape architect E. Stautemans decided the world (or at least Brussels) should see the beauty of his favorite botanical, the Begonia, for all it's splendor.  Since then, the plans have become more symbolic, international, and beautiful every year.  It's interesting to see the changing themes and colors they've used over the years.  I bet you'll guess the decades just by the pictures below...Here are some of my favorites.

Flower Carpet 1970s
1970s (obviously)  The rust, gold and brown are are accented by pops of white and black.

Flower Carpet 80s
The complementary colors of red and green create a bold and symmetrical design in the 1980s

Flower Carpet 90s
Experimenting with more organic patterns and the use of technology by incorporating fountains gives this yellow and red flower carpet a new look in the 1990s.

Flower Carpet Fave
This one is also from the 1990s-- my favorite for it's Art Nouveau leanings and the way it contrasts the classic and ancient architecture in the area. All images are via here.

Kerala, India:

Onam (pronounced "O-Numb") is the biggest celebration in the state of Kerala, India and evolved around the legend of mythical king Mahabali who is said to have been a ruler of peace, life, and joy.  Onam is symbolic of his rule and includes festivities like the "Snake Boat" races, cultural dances like Katha Kalli, a special nine course meal served on banana leaves, and "Pookalam", the art of creating floral patterns on the ground.  The event lasts for ten days in August/September and the design of the pookalam traditionally takes just as much time.  Each day, a specific flower would be used.  You would stumble upon pookalams in public and private spaces everywhere that use local flowers like "Thumba", "Mukkutti", "Chethi", and the Red Pagoda plant, creating gorgeous works of art.  Each Pookalam is uniquely designed and created by hand.

Onam 1
Onam 2
Onam 4
Onam 3

This year, the city of Kozhikode created, Snehapookalam, the world's largest flower carpet (as determined by the Guinness World Book of Records) with the help of over 1000 locals in exactly 2 hours and 8 minutes.  A pookalam of 151 feet in diameter and over 17,500 square feet boasted over 33,000 lbs of Chrysanthemum, Chethi, Vadamalli, and Dahlias.  The concept behind the exercise was to celebrate unity, brotherhood, and harmony through creating beauty together. 

Women arranging flowers for pookalam onam
Women dressed in traditional Onam garb of off-white and gold bordered saris arrange flowers quickly!  Photo by K. Ragesh

 Snehapookalam sunishc 
Can you imagine the wonderful scent of flowers that filled the air?  Photo by C. Sunish

This art form is a site to be seen and if you're as inspired as I am, start planning your 2011 trip to Kerala and Brussels now for next year's display.


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Captures speak themselves about the flower power...
Clicks are really impressive and beautiful...The design of flowers gives a different essence to the carpet..like this share of colors of flowers...

Very colorful! :D It would really be fun making such carpets like those. But if that could be used at home, then everyone will actually have fresh and naturally scented homes! Flowers are commonly used in making carpet designs. It's nice to see real flowers, though. :D

This kind of activity really needs time and patience. Arranging those flowers may take a lot of time and concentration. You need to make sure that you put in the right color and variety. They deserve to be appreciated on the job well done.

These are incredible! Will have to make my way to Belgium and India sometime soon. Thanks!

Wow Sonu! I did not know about these fabulous traditions. The scale of the Flower Carpet is incredible. I love the carpet designs you showed over the years (groovy 70's one!).

I'm with you on the Art Nouveau design - gorgeous.

The purple person in me loves the third Pookalam too.

Thanks for sharing!

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