I received the post below, about a flower display, by email from Byter Leo. Boring, I hear you think, it’s about Australia taking first prize in the Chelsea Flower Show last month.
Wrong on both counts – not Chelsea, not boring.
Before posting Leo’s email, let me give you the background:
In Dutch, the word “bloemencorso” means “flower parade”, “flower pageant” or “flower procession”.
In a bloemencorso, the floats, cars and, in some cases, boats, are decorated with flowers and then paraded.
Many towns in the Netherlands and Belgium hold annual bloemencorso.
The oldest and largest bloemencorso in in Europe is in the small Dutch village of Zundert, the birthplace and childhood residence of Vincent van Gogh.
The website for the 2013 Bloemencorso Zundert, to be held on the first Sunday in September, is at:
The floats are large artworks made of steel wire, cardboard, papier-mache and flowers. In the Bloemencorso Zundert, only dahlias are used to decorate the objects and it takes thousands of them just to cover one float.
The huge floats are made by twenty different hamlets and each of them consists of hundreds of builders, aged 1 to 100, who are all equally crazy about the bloemencorso. The older members of the hamlet are often responsible for planting and growing the dahlias, while the younger ones build the float in large temporary tents that are built exclusively for the event.
The bloemencorso is also a competition. A professional and independent jury decides which float is the most beautiful and which hamlet will be crowned the winner of that year.
Social elements and hamlets
Building a float for the corso is mainly a social event. Builders of all ages work side by side for over three months to get the float of their hamlet ready on time. It has to be as perfect as possible in order to win the competition.
The parade itself takes place on the first Sunday of September, but the members of the hamlets work on their floats all summer. The tents are put up in May or June and from then on the volunteers put all their effort in creating the giant artworks. The last three days before the actual parade are the most stressful. Because the flowers have to be fresh, the hamlets can only start applying the dahlias on the floats on the Thursday before the parade. If necessary, the builders will work day and night to have their float ready on Sunday.
Most people in Zundert will happily give up their days off to work on the float. The social cohesion that comes from building it is very important. A hamlet is like a family where everyone knows each other and everyone is welcome. After a long evening working on the float people drink a beer together and most hamlets organize all kinds of other activities like song contests and barbecues.
For years, seventeen hamlets participated in the corso. In recent years, three more decided to enter the competition. Building a float costs a lot of money] and hundreds of people are needed. Now there are twenty hamlets competing in Bloemencorso Zundert.
What began in 1936 as a flower parade has become the oldest and most celebrated ode to blooms in Europe.
Ever since its inception, Zundert in the Netherlands has hosted an annual flower show Bloemencorso, with an average 50,000 visitors descending on the town to look at the brilliant displays.
Creators use dahlias for their breathtaking displays and build gravity defying sculptures of tigers holding cubs in their mouths, leopards chasing antelope, and bejewelled elephants.
Let's hope the wind doesn't blow too hard! The flowers have been meticulously placed to create the giraffes, even down to their eyelids and hair that lines their neck
A roaring good show: The intricate blooms have been manipulated to create this gravity-defying impressive model of a tiger and her cubs
Every float is made from dahlias. This twisting house, which is as high as other apartments, weaves its ways through the narrow streets
Just by using dahlias, volunteers created this show-stopping piece, where a startled antelope flees the clutches of a leopard that gives chase
Udderly brilliant - thee competitors left no detail out - they even included the numbers on the tags on the ears, and what appears to be the inner workings of a milk-processing plant within the cow's body
Something fishy about this: Bloemencorso saw this elaborate fish display, which saw a shoal of fish whirl around each other - even using light-coloured dahlias to shade in the light bouncing off the eyeballs
Each of the competing districts of Zundert - which was the home of Vincent Van Gogh - construct their own entry and compete in the parade, which occurs every first Sunday in September. According to those behind Bloemencorso, the parade is all the work of dedicated volunteers, who do not profit from the colourful display.
A staggering six to eight million dahlia flowers are used to produce the floats.
Bloemencorso began in 1936, and since then has spiralled in popularity, as the small population makes huge efforts to outdo one another so they can create sculptures like his huge organ
Even the meerkats get a mention! The curious animals are brought to life, as creators perfected every inch of the models, even down to their nails and shading on their tails
Out of this world! Every float here is made from petals and, despite being made from such a delicate, tiny structure, take on gigantic proportions which people clamour to see
It's really taken off! Bloemencorso has grown in term of popularity and in the sheer size of the creations, with thousands flocking to the home of Vincent Van Gogh to gasp at the displays
Held on the first Sunday of every September, the quaint town becomes packed with visitors and, on this occasion, a huge rhinoceros made of delicate flowers
Make it snappy! Thousands turn out to Bloemencorso, as hamlets compete with each other to create the most beautiful display - including this sinister-looking fishy
And a couple of bonus pics:
By the way, did I mention that Australia won the Chelsea Flower Show last month?