The tulips appeared during the night in Melbourne’s Hosier Lane. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Nicole Mills)
Under the cover of darkness, thousands of tulips that were destined for the bin have been brought in to fill one of Melbourne’s most colourful laneways.
Hosier Lane was transformed on Friday as 35,000 beautiful orange blooms lined the graffiti-covered bluestone street.
Joost Bakker was the guerilla gardener responsible for the splash of spring colour which brought joy to the city on a beautiful sunny day.
He said he couldn’t bear to see the flowers from his family’s farm near Monbulk, east of Melbourne, dumped in the skip.
“They weren’t good enough to be bunched and sold so I said, ‘Well, bugger that, we’ll put them in a laneway in the city’,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne’s Sami Shah.
“This is a new variety that they’ve never grown before.
“The flower actually stays stuck in the leaf, which isn’t a problem when you’ve got them the way that I’ve used them here in the city.
“But when you’re growing them and then having to sell them to florists, by the time the florists get them they’re too open.”
Desi Assiminos and Steph Webb take some tulips to plant at home. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Nicole Mills)
Mr Bakker said it’s estimated that 70 per cent of flowers sold in Australia came from overseas, and this had environmental as well as social impacts.
He said he hoped the installation raised awareness among consumers.
“There’s over 1,000 flower growers in Australia and they’re under huge pressure at the moment from imports and imported flowers,” he said.
“Most people don’t realise when they buy flowers that they could come from overseas, and I just want people to ask when they buy flowers, or when they speak to florists or supermarkets, where were these flowers grown?”
Mr Bakker said the most sustainable option was to buy locally grown flowers, especially those in season.
“They’re more expensive, yes, mainly because the labour costs are higher [in Australia] and there’s a lot of chemicals that can be used in other countries that can’t be used here.
“Sometimes flowers land in Australia for $2 a bunch.
“There’s just no way known that you can compete.”
The tulips couldn’t be sold to florists but proved extremely popular with Melburnians. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Nicole Mills)
A garbage collector set the trend this morning by taking a tulip for his wife in the early hours of the day.
After the City of Melbourne encouraged people on Twitter to get down and take some “so they don’t go to waste”, there were hundreds of people wandering through the CBD clutching a handful or a bagful of tulips.