This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Why Are There 35,000 Tulips In Melbourne’s CBD?

Creative People

Joost Bakker’s had a big morning. He and eight mates arrived with three trucks to Melbourne’s Hosier Lane at 4:00am. By 6:00am, they’d unloaded the 35,000 tulips that now line the city’s graffiti hotspot.

But why?

5th October, 2018

Hosier Lane in Melbourne’s CBD gets an impromptu tulip garden. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

It’s the work of environmental activist, zero-waste crusader and restauranteur Joost Bakker. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

These were destined for a pin, not meeting florists requirement. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Joost is livid unethically and unsustainably produced imports flood the Australian flower market. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Joost wanted to make a statement about our nonsensical waste… be that of flowers, food or any finite resource, and encourage people to buy local. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A newly trialled ‘Sunbelt’ variety of tulip, this batch is deformed. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A woman out walking her puppy was also thrilled to collect a bouquet and learn about the purpose. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The flowers are locally grown in Silvan. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘‘The point is that most people don’t realise that a lot of flowers are imported – the National Farmers Federation estimates up to 70%’ says Joost. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The installation is on Hosier Lane for as long as it lasts (dependant on the public and the authorities). Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

35,000 tulips in total. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Joost and eight friends delivered them. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The setup took place between 4-6am. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Joost hopes the project will get people thinking… and acting! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
Friday 5th October 2018

‘It’s not just about flowers, it’s also about food – it’s about everything!’ – Joost Bakker.

Melbourne woke to tonnes of tulips. They’re free to enjoy, pick and pass on, but the point of it all runs a bit deeper.

Environmental activist, zero-waste crusader and restaurateur Joost Bakker is the early bird behind one epic flower delivery! After learning that his brother’s flower farm, Bakker & Co, had 35,000 tulips destined for a skip bin, he saw it as a prime opportunity to make a statement about our nonsensical waste, be that of flowers, food or any finite resource. This guerilla project also asks us to consider the import of unethical products (which cripples local, well-regulated industries), as well as the systems and legislation that perpetuate unsustainability across the entire country.

So, what’s wrong with the tulips? A newly trialled ‘Sunbelt’ variety, this batch is deformed. The flower heads were stuck in their leaves, meaning they could not be picked at the optimum time to be distributed and wouldn’t be accepted by florists in any case. However, outgrowing this deformation in soil and now blooming, they’re perfectly beautiful!

Being locally-grown in Silvan and not held-up deteriorating in transport and logistics, these flowers could last for up to two weeks in their new city locale, becoming bigger and brighter each day. Unless, of course, they’re picked… but that’s also very much encouraged!

A pair of garbos were some of the first people to arrive on the vibrant scene. ‘“Look at all these plastic tulips, what the hell?” they were saying to each other, until one guy pulled one out and couldn’t believe they were real,’ Joost tells. ‘When they realised I was doing it, he asked if he could take one for his wife, who loves them!’

A woman out walking her puppy was also thrilled to collect a bouquet and learn about the purpose behind the impromptu garden. Shortly after, another popped by to give Joost a coffee, apology and praise – living above the Lane, at 4:30am she’d inquired (a little curtly) as to what he was doing making all that racket! A follower on Instagram, when she later realised she was thrilled and in full support (even coming back a second time to collect her ceramic coffee cup!).

One more challenging convert was a man so appalled (!?) that he scuffed across the cobblestones ranting to himself. Curiosity soon got the better of Mr Confrontational, though, and he had to ask, ‘What’s all this about?’ Upon discovering, he instantly mellowed and backpedalled. When I passed Mr Enlightened five minutes later, he and Joost were still chatting, and I caught the end of an apology. ‘Sorry mate, I take back what I said. But maybe I can move these ones so graffiti artists can access that part of the wall… and so, what other types of flowers are coming from Africa dirt-cheap?” he asked. Joost gave him a hand, along with some stats.

‘The point is that most people don’t realise that a lot of flowers are imported – the National Farmers Federation estimates up to 70%. People just assume they are Australian grown, but there are no labels and no laws around the labelling. Nuts, right?’.

Joost is livid that unethically and unsustainably produced imports flood the Australian flower market. ‘Not only can locals not compete on price, but there’s no quality in the flowers, and it’s giving the whole industry a bad name as it turns people off buying them,’ he says. ‘And it’s not just about flowers, it’s also about food – it’s about everything!’

The installation will be on Hosier Lane, Melbourne, for as long as it lasts (dependant on the public and the authorities). Follow @joostbakker to keep up with his activism and projects.

 

Make A Difference

1. Buy locally-grown – if it’s not labelled, ask or avoid.

2. Opt for organic, sustainably and ethically produced options.

3. Think, plan and act around seasonality – from your meal to your wedding date (for the flowers)!

This Week

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!
02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!
Amelia Barnes
  12 hours ago

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...

News

Sit Front Row At The Country To Couture Fashion Show Tonight!

The 2020 runway show featuring an incredible lineup of contemporary First Nations designers will be broadcast via Facebook this Friday (toda...
Sasha Gattermayr
  7 hours ago

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr

Creative People

The Best News Story Of 2021, So Far!

We check in on Think Thornbury owners Maggie May and Josh Kelly and their son Remy and get an update on their family!
Sally Tabart
  4 hours ago
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Swoon-Worthy Luggage For The Perfect Weekend Escape

Local luggage experts July prep us for the summer of local travel with the slick new ‘Daybreak’ range.
Sponsored

View Comments

Similar Stories

Podcast

TDF Talks @Mercedes me With Joost Bakker

Supporting our in-conversation series throughout June and July, a live podcast of Lucy's candid chat with the visionary no-waste crusader an...

Regional

Farm-To-Table + Back Again, With Loop Growers

Tree-changers Alice Star and Phillip Garozzo are waging their own private ‘war on waste’, and it's started a revolutionary local food mo...
Karen Locke

TDF Films

Melbourne Mornings · Joost Bakker

Today we share another film in our ‘Melbourne Mornings’ series. We were so lucky recently to spend the most photogenic morning fil

This Week

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Swoon-Worthy Luggage For The Perfect Weekend Escape

Local luggage experts July prep us for the summer of local travel with the slick new ‘Daybreak’ range.
Sponsored
02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!
Amelia Barnes
  12 hours ago

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.

Creative People

The Best News Story Of 2021, So Far!

We check in on Think Thornbury owners Maggie May and Josh Kelly and their son Remy and get an update on their family!
Sally Tabart
  4 hours ago

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

News

Sit Front Row At The Country To Couture Fashion Show Tonight!

The 2020 runway show featuring an incredible lineup of contemporary First Nations designers will be broadcast via Facebook this Friday (toda...
Sasha Gattermayr
  7 hours ago

Similar Stories

Podcast

TDF Talks @Mercedes me With Joost Bakker

A live podcast of Lucy's candid conversation with the visionary no-waste crusader and designer.

Regional

Farm-To-Table + Back Again, With Loop Growers

Alice Star and Phillip Garozzo have started their own revolutionary local food movement!
Karen Locke

TDF Films

Melbourne Mornings · Joost Bakker

Today we share another film in our ‘Melbourne Mornings’ series. We were so lucky recently to spend the most photogenic morning fil

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.