28 April 2020

Barr promises a Floriade like no other in the age of social distancing

| Dominic Giannini
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Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr planting the first bulbs of this years’ Floriade. Photos: Dominic Giannini.

A new look, physically distanced Floriade will take place at dozens of locations across Canberra, and Chief Minister Andrew Barr has not ruled out leaving some bulbs aside for Canberrans to own a piece of this year’s festival.

Floriade: Reimagined will see 700,000 of the one million bulbs and annuals planted in garden beds around the city, and 300,000 will be set aside to brighten up national institutions, hospitals and community organisations across Canberra.

It will be a Floriade like no other, Mr Barr said.

“We are determined to maintain the tradition of a million bulbs springing to life in Canberra’s spring,” he said in front of City Hill on Tuesday morning (28 April).

“The idea that we would have a spring without flowers would be pretty disappointing so we think we have struck the right balance here.

“[We will] share Canberra’s celebration of spring as far and wide across the city as we can.”

The redesign has seen the original budget cut in half to $2.4 million. The savings will be reallocated to other projects.

On top of being one of the locations where Floriade flowers will be planted, City Hill is also getting a facelift. More trees and pathways into the park are designed to turn it into a thriving social destination for Canberrans after the pandemic.

“In the not-too-distant future, Edinburgh Avenue will connect to Vernon Circle in the same way Constitution Avenue has, so that will mean City Hill will become more of a park and destination for Canberrans,” Mr Barr said.

“It does have a very bright future as a public park. It could be more than just the centre of a roundabout. With the street connectivity in the city centre, what people can expect in the year ahead is that there will be more ways to connect the east and west of the city.”

The City Renewal Authority has been working on designing the park’s upgrade for several months now, Mr Barr said as he touted the spectacular views Canberrans would enjoy from the hill.

“When we emerge on the other side of this virus, one of the legacies will be that Canberra will have a brand new park in the centre of the city, one that will be better connected and where Canberrans will want to go.”

Head Gardener Andrew Forster says he is enthusiastic at the prospect of redesigning Floriade instead of canning one of Canberra’s most iconic events.

“We are very excited about the challenge ahead for us; we are looking at some wonderful locations across Canberra,” he said.

“City Hill is going to be spectacular with mixed daffodils. We have a few friendly rabbits so we won’t put the pansies up there.

“As you drive up London Circuit you will see beautiful daffodils of all colours bursting in springtime right through September and early October.”

Planting daffodils

Floriade Head Gardener Andrew Forster (left) says City Hill will be blossoming with a variety of coloured daffodils come spring.

The pyramids at Margaret Timpson Park and the owl statue in Belconnen are set to be spiced up with poppies and pansies this year as Floriade makes it way into the suburbs.

Bulbs will be planted in garden beds or portable flower beds in Gungahlin, Woden, Tuggeranong, Kingston, Kippax, Condor, Weston Creek, Molonglo and a spate of other suburbs.

Wheelbarrows and pots will also be placed at The Canberra Hospital, Calvary Hospital, University of Canberra Hospital, John James Hospital and Clare Holland House.

No bulb will go to waste this year despite the main Floriade spectacular being cancelled because of social distancing measures, and some might even find their way to a house near you, the Chief Minister confirmed.

“We are certainly open to … bulbs that are not going to be part of Floriade: Reimagined finding their way [to the public],” Mr Barr said.

Floriade map

Some of the dozens of locations the one million bulbs will be planted this year. Image: Supplied.

“Community organisations have indicated that they would have space and a willingness to tend for them, so we are open to that, and there is a process through the Floriade website where people can register their interest.”

Applications are now open and close Wednesday, 6 May 2020. For information on how to apply and for a detailed list of locations, visit floriadeaustralia.com.

More details of Floriade: Reimagined, including the COVID-19 adaption of other components of the festival, will be released in coming weeks.

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Regardless of where Floriade finally finishes up, where Canberra falls down and always has, is in it’s architecture. It doesn’t come within a bull’s roar of it’s town planning and landscaping.

I am only too happy for the government to assist international students financially. International students contribute $billions to our economy. Many international students choose Canberra as a progressive and inclusive city with some of the best universities in the country. I thought Canberrans were a little more accepting and compassionate Lee McDowall.

The ACT government has been trying to destroy Floriade for years.

This year it is justifiable to have the flowers scattered across the city, but hopefully next year they will return it to its right place.

Spreading Floriade across the city will have a number of disadvantages:
. No longer a large joyous community and family gathering event;
. No longer a photographic spectacle;
. Fewer interstate visitors so less money coming into the local economy;
. An excuse for Barr to cut the budget of Floriade and divert the funds to his own preferred projects.

There’s just no pleasing some people. Go suck a lemon Acton

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