Flashback Friday: Canberra city blooms

As of 1 January 2018, the management of the City Centre Marketing and Improvements Levy transferred from In The City Canberra to the City Renewal Authority. Views expressed in these articles may not reflect the views of the Authority.

Spring is in the air. Floriade is only a few weeks away and in-tune with Canberra’s principal event, we look back on the CBD hanging flower baskets.

The In The City Canberra (ITCC) initiative began in 2008 and complemented Christmas and the summer entertainment program. For eight years, hanging baskets were installed on light poles around the CBD.

ITCC CEO Jane Easthope said, “It certainly improved the amenity of the city, there’s no doubt. People admired them and commented positively.”

In 2009, we organised summer hanging baskets in 350 locations around the City (1400 hanging baskets). The flowers were installed in mid-November and as we tried-and-tested varieties and combinations of petunias, fertilizer and soil, finally found the perfect combination to ensure the displays lasted until late April.

The reds don’t last as long as other colours, unlike the whites which seem to go the distance. This saw us place new flowers into the pot during the display season, so as to combat potential patches of colour. Sometimes they were on solid colour, other times, confetti.

The nocturnal efforts of our trusty maintenance man are to be applauded over this period. His commitment to keeping the pots of colour alive saw him spend a few hours each morning and late afternoon watering the blooms from a hand-held wand and water tank, attached to the back of his ute.

Gradually we changed our approach to placing flowers in double tiers to create more of a ‘wow’ statement, and put them on street poles so both motorists and pedestrians could enjoy them. Earlier we focused on walkways, with the last display including Northbourne and Cooyong. Twice we supported claims for unfair parking fines because the flowers temporarily obscured a sign.

The flower baskets were one of many strategies employed by ITCC to clearly define the Canberra CBD, which by many accounts, were well worth the effort!