What better way to celebrate a reawakening than with flowers. Capturing the spirit of Melbourne after months of lockdown is the huge floral display that Cherrie Miriklis-Pavlou of Flowers Vasette installed over the grand archway at the entrance of the iconic Flinders Street Station last Saturday.
The Flinders Street installation falls under the Urban Blooms project that is part of the $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund delivered by the City of Melbourne and the Victorian State.
Urban Bloom, which was conceived by Melbourne flower merchant Elizabeth Ricci, is set to run until November 27. Eighteen florists in the city have given the Urban Bloom treatment to other key sites including North Melbourne’s Post Office, Hosier Lane, Chinatown, the Regent Theatre, the Rialto, the Arts Centre, Docklands, Crossley Street and the Old Treasury Building. All are adorned with flowers and foliage from growers in Victoria.
For Ms Miriklis-Pavlou, the founder and creative director of Flowers Vasette, the Flinders Street Arch is the largest of the Urban Bloom projects and it is also the largest installation that the Fitzroy-based company has undertaken in its 30-year history.
“We have named it the Arch of Resilience in tribute to the flower growers who faced the drought, the fires and also COVID-19,” Ms Miriklis-Pavlou told Neos Kosmos. “It is also a celebration of our 30 years in the business.”
She said the flower industry had suffered greatly because of COVID-19. When the lockdown took place (in April), the demand for flowers came to a halt.
“The growers had nowhere to sell their product. We tried to push their product through our website. The public does not understand what it takes to get the flowers to the table. Growers work very hard and get up early to get the flowers to the market and with COVID-19 the growers had nowhere to sell their product.”
During lockdown, Flowers Vasette itself had to shift to selling vegetable hampers to ride the COVID-19 storm.
“It went well at the time. We sold fresh vegetable and food hampers because people needed food on the table not flowers. Many would not go to the supermarkets. We sold up to 100 hampers a day,” said Ms Miriklis-Pavlou.
Even as the city endured two bouts of lockdown, the florists were already looking at ways to celebrate the re-opening of the city. The problem was not knowing when the lockdown would come to an end.
“We had just two weeks before Urban Bloom went ahead,” said Ms Miriklis-Pavlou. Once the design was in place, her team working, was given just three nights to complete the arch over Flinders Street Station.
“Because it is Flinders Street station (the busiest in Melbourne) we had to work between midnight and 5am to set it up. It took a team of 15 people and I am grateful for the help of (construction firm) Showtech in setting up the installation.”
The Flowers Vasette installation over the arch features 500 stems that include Callistemon, Eucalyptus nicholii, bottlebrush, she-oak, red box gums, blackwood wattle. The base includes banksia, kangaroo paw, king protea and three-metre tall Acer maples. All were sourced from Victorian growers with additional plants coming from Vasette’s Beechmont Garden Retreat in Olinda.
“The arch of Flinders Street Station has stood as a site of public celebration, decorated to commemorate significant moments in Melbourne’s history including centenaries, achievements and visiting monarchs. Flowers Vasette are honoured to be invited to amplify such an important and publicly recognised landmark,” said Ms Miriklis-Pavlou.
“This is a wonderful collaboration, particularly after the devastation of bush fires earlier this year and most recently the impact of Covid-19 on our industry. … We are pleased to bring together local growers and many of our long-standing suppliers to hero locally grown seasonal plants and flowers in an installation like no other.”