Belgian Begonias Batman!!

So I was watching Deutsche Welle,,3232,00.html and they had a story on Belgium and the Begonia carpet…

Seems that every even year, the folks in Belgium make a carpet out of Begonias in a major square.

OK, so why mention this? Something that was said in the broadcast (but is not in the shorter online version of DW Journal) and where I could not find any other reference in some fair amount of “web-foo” searching.

The story is a “fluff piece” about the Belgium Flower Carpet; yet said that this year there had been a shortage of Begonias from which to make it due to “a shortage of sunshine” in Belgium….

I’d love to give more information and have a pointer to confirmation; but it is all just ‘dead air’ at this point. Still, it was broadcast and DW is usually pretty good about having some factual basis for things (even if left-leaning in their ‘spin’ applied to the facts).

It would be a wonderful bit of “natural evidence” that things are responding to a cooling quiet sun… if only there WERE some evidence. (I’m SURE I heard it right…)

So if anyone knows where to get confirmation of flower type substitution or a looming “Begonia shortage” in Belgium: I’d love to have a pointer. Until then, you will just have to trust that I heard DW correctly and that they did in fact report the story correctly.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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21 Responses to Belgian Begonias Batman!!

  1. Petrossa says:

    I only know about a peanutbutterfloor, no shortage of peanutbutter signaled though.

  2. BobN says:

    Europe had a very damp spring and early summer with more rain than usual. I’m betting the overcast prevented proper growth to get them started. Begnonias are a shade plant that doesn’t like much sun once they get a good start.

  3. Steve Crook says:

    Plainly, the lack of sunshine is caused by changes in weather patters resulting from the effects. of anthropogenic CO2. We can expect European weather to continue to provide colder wetter summers, and colder winters with more snow. These are the obvious signs of global warming as predicted by top climate scientists for the last two decades. Oh, er, just a moment…

  4. Adam Gallon says:

    A definate lack of sunshine in the UK during the Spring & early summer.
    This might interest you, CET Sunshine 1929-2009.

  5. This year (SW France) there are fewer apples on my trees, very few plums, and the grapes look like not being worth harvesting. The year started OK, but then there was a cold/cloudy stretch for months and the flowers dropped off. The first crop of figs dropped off the trees, too. Belgium is not that far away from here, and tends to be somewhat less sunny than here anyway, so I’d expect similarly bad growing conditions there.

    Various reports on the flower carpet say 600K, 700K and a million flowers needed to make it, set by 100 people in 4 hours. That’s quite a rate of setting-out, whichever is the right answer.

  6. adolfogiurfa says:

    Professor Khabbibulo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Observatory at Saint Petersburg, Russia, has studied this phenomenon:
    The Earth as a planet will henceforward have negative balance in the energy budget which will result in the temperature drop in approximately 2014

    Click to access abduss_apr.pdf

  7. Gary says:

    Begonias are warm-loving plants that do better with partial sun. I would suspect cool temperatures before “lack of sunshine.”

  8. R. de Haan says:

    After a fairly good start of the growng season, temperatures plummited and night frosts occured far into June. Extreme rains, hail storms and long periods of clouded weather did the rest.As a result, ample strawberries, ample growth of plants and very late flowering of garden plants. It’s the temperature extremes that effect plant growth. I have documented my garden plants during this season and all I can say is that it was bad. The only fruit trees producing a nice crop had a late bloom. No cherries, no apples, no peaches and no strawberries in my garden this year.
    As a matter of fact I have some strawberries blooming right now but the fruits are small.

  9. Chuckles says:

    Reports of death greatly exaggerated according to this –

    DW report sounds like a possible regurgitated breathless press release designed to raise interest and visibility?

    And has anyone asked the begonias how they feel about it? Will no one think of the angiosperms?

  10. Graeme No.3 says:

    In South Australia tuberous begonias (the spectacular ones) are grown under cover (to reduce sunlight as per Gary), which is usually enough to protect them from any low temperatures. Unfortunately I live in a hard frost area, so I miss out on their summer flowering.

    In colder climates e.g. Ballarat in Vic. they are grown in greenhouses (with sunlight reduction) and they have their Begonia Festival in March (beginning of autumn). In very hot weather the glasshouses are cooled with a water misting system. To start growth after winter, the glasshouses are heated slightly in early spring.
    Given the importance of the tourist trade and the huge greenhouse based flower and vegetable industry in the Netherlands, I would think that in Belgium those begonias would be grown under cover with supplementary heating and lighting installed, and independent of climate.

  11. KevinM says:

    “It is essential to plant Begonias in well-drained soil as water‑logged roots die. Never allow them to stand in water.”

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    The report was that other species had been worked into the design (so the display will be full and essentially normal) not that their was a failure to make a carpet.


    Interesting bit of first hand reporting of conditions. Does sound like a very wide spread cool / wet range from the UK to Central / Eastern Europe. There are interesting implications about the political dynamics that are likely to exist between Western Europe and Russia due to weather cycling. 1/4 Century of “everything fine and population growth” then 1/4 Century of “crop stress and ‘issues’ to deal with”? Could explain some interesting aspects of history.

    The USA has the Midwest Drought cycle that periodically sends waves of folks to the coasts. Then hurricanes that send them back ;-)

    China has a periodic flood / drought -famine cycle that influences dynasty rise / fall.

    Wonder what Latin America has…

  13. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: Wonder what Latin America has… Only changes due to “El Niño”, both in weather as in fishing, it could mean a peaceful existence….if not interrupted by earthquakes….or volcanoes.
    When there is el niño we have part of the continent suffering from deluges and part (high in the andes) suffering the opposite, in la “niña” conditions there is the inverse situation: where in “el niño” was wet now is dry and where it was dry during el “niño” it is rainy.
    But, as already described here in “Musings from the Chiefio”, during Solar Minima, it is like a prolonged “La Niña”, where there will be droughts in the Argentinian “Pampas”, where wheat and soybean is produced.

  14. E.M.Smith says:


    So, find a place on the interface of the two “ranging” areas and all is good? Hmmm….

    And don’t depend on wheat and soy for dinner ;-)

    Sounds to me like about “1/2 way up the mountains” in Chile / Peru ought to be a nice place to be…

    Maybe Ecuador too… but not too near one of the volcanoes…

    I would speculate that the added land area in the N. H. causes the drought / flood cycle to have overshoot. S.H. lots of water moderates the swings. OK, so S.H. and lots of water near is a feature. Got it… Islands ought to be a feature in that thesis too. Patagonia? Hmmm…. Always wanted to visit Patagonia…

    Wonder if there is a weather history of Uruguay on line anywhere ;-) (Frankly, I don’t know much about Paraguay and Uruguay…. they were always “those little bits near Argentina / Brazil” to me. But Germany loved Paraguay and a load of folks emigrated there; as it was about the same latitude, though in the other hemisphere, and about the same size as W. Germany. A lot of my relatives from ‘way back’ ended up there as the Amish / Mennonite side of things spread to the Americas…)

    OK, Equator-south in Latin America and “Islands” are on the “someday” list… but not the Pampas of Argentina. Looks like a more stable place in terms of climate than the N.H. If they can only get out of the periodic fascination with the Socialism Shiny Thing and desire to periodically confiscate any available wealth via abrogation of property rights and the rule of law…

    That would argue for New Zealand also being a stable place (modulo that Supervolcano under Auckland…); too bad last time I looked they didn’t want me as they had an age cutoff at something like 40ish…

  15. Paul, Somerset says:

    Here we go:

    “Pour une fois, il ne s’agit pas exclusivement de bégonias. Vu le manque de chaleur et de lumière depuis le début de l’année, les producteurs belges n’ont pas pu faire fleurir à temps assez de bégonias. Un tiers des fleurs seront donc des dahlias importés de Hollande.”

    My translation: “For once, it’s not exclusively begonias. Owing to the lack of warmth and light since the start of the year, Belgian producers have not been able to bring enough begonias into bloom in time. A third of the flowers have therefore had to be imported from Holland.”

  16. Paul, Somerset says:

    Sorry. Last sentence: “A third of the flowers will therefore be dahlias imported from Holland.”

  17. Graeme No.3 says:

    In Australia, El niño means largely dry weather and Tim Flannery (looney Greenie) carrying on about permanent drought. La niña means lots of rain and Tim Flannery (looney Greenie and bar) carrying on about climate change. Most normal people think it is just weather.

    Last volcano on mainland about 10,000 years ago, so Greenies all agree that they are just dormant and could erupt at any time. Deaths from earthquakes 15 in last 100 years (all in a 5.5 at Newcastle). We do have a Julia Gillard led Government which is far more destructive than those.

    Tasmania is cooler, less variable, and fairly well watered; all of which made it acceptable to early English settlers. It does snow on the mountains in winter, but no ski resorts. Not prone to volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes either. You wouldn’t want to go there, place is infested with Greenies.

  18. Pascvaks says:

    A little more on the Begonia Tuber –
    How to plant and grow bulbs, corms and tubers (a’la Brit Website)
    Note: This tuber has a ‘very’ shallow planting depth, see pic at bottom of page.
    More on Begonias

  19. Espen says:

    Yes, most of western Europe from northern France and southern Germany and northwards has had a wet and cool summer. Here in Norway meteorologists try to argue that temperatures were just slightly below normal in July, but of course with all the rain, nights have been relatively mild, thus bringing mean temperatures slightly up. I think they should rather use max temperatures + days of sunshine and no rain as a measure of “summer quality”.

    Nice day today, though, barbecue dinner in the garden :) Any spelling errors may be due to red wine.

  20. Waymad says:

    EM, have you considered adoption? As in, Being Adopted. I realise that at your presumed rather advanced age this is unusual, but the rules for extended families being able to come to Godzone are, shall we say, flexible. Being as how our main markets are Asian, and that a significant proportion of the Pacific has deserted the Idyllic Tropical Islands for the delights of Auckland suburbia. So there’s precedent….

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