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

Dominic Giannini 28 April 2020 13
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

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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13 Responses to Barr promises a Floriade like no other in the age of social distancing
wottaway wottaway 5:08 pm 02 May 20

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.

Jodie Peden Jodie Peden 10:11 pm 29 Apr 20

Love this

Kim Kim 7:54 pm 29 Apr 20

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.

Lee McDowall Lee McDowall 5:03 pm 29 Apr 20

I would rather this than the handouts to international students!

    Andrew Hennell Andrew Hennell 6:32 am 30 Apr 20

    It's sad to know you place flowers as a higher priority than fellow humans, especially those who chose to come to Australia to contribute to our economy and are now stuck here.

    Kytie Mclign Kytie Mclign 7:19 am 30 Apr 20

    Lee McDowall It isn't a choice. Both will happen.

Annie Wyer Annie Wyer 3:53 pm 29 Apr 20

Here’s a thought Mr Barr - we have a large vacant block of land right next to the pyramids at Margaret Timpson Park - you know the park - the one you keep telling us is hardly ever used - well the old Medical Centre has been demolished and the ground is bare. Wouldn’t it a better use of resources if you turned that into a mini Floriade?? It even has a depression which was the basement, which could provide a bit of visual interest, as well as a ready-made pond feature. How about it Mr Barr? We’ve been wanting to extend Margaret Timpson Park since you agreed to several more massive apartment complexes to be built within cooee of it, we need more green space within the Belconnen shopping zone to accommodate the numerous apartment complexes surrounding it.

We’ve written to you, we written to government ministers and we keep getting ignored. And now you want to ruin a couple of grassy knolls that kids actually play on. If you think the Park is under utilised, why on earth would you plant thousands of bulbs in a location that you already seem to think that nobody comes here?

Matt Boyd Matt Boyd 3:10 pm 29 Apr 20

Francesco Mazzoli u movie star.

    Francesco Mazzoli Francesco Mazzoli 5:02 pm 29 Apr 20

    Matt Boyd not me I am the one that made the dirty job before the release

    Matt Boyd Matt Boyd 5:49 pm 29 Apr 20

    Francesco Mazzoli thought it was u. 🤦‍♂️

Spiral Spiral 10:38 am 29 Apr 20

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.

Acton Acton 6:15 am 29 Apr 20

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.

    Kim Kim 10:46 am 29 Apr 20

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

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