If you live in New York City, chances are you’ve already stumbled across a most peculiar sight – a public trash containing a large, colorful arrangement of flowers, making it look like a giant vase. They have been popping up all around the Big Apple, stopping people in their tracks and putting a smile on their faces.
The unusual flower vases are the work of Lewis Miller, a local floral designer who uses leftover flowers and decorative plants from weddings and other events to add a bit of color to the grey, gloomy sidewalks of NYC. He and his team at Lewis Miller Design look for the most attractive garbage cans in the city and get up early in the morning to fill them with dozens of beautiful flower, eventually turning them into huge vases. Following a popular Vogue article on this unique project, Miller and his team have come to be known as the “flower bandits” of New York.
Lewis came up with the idea of using flowers to make his city prettier, in October 2016, when he and his team brought 2,000 flowers to the John Lennon “Imagine” Memorial in Central Park, and used them to create “a psychedelic halo of day-glo yellow, pink, purple and orange dahlias and carnations.” The overwhelmingly positive their arrangement got from passers-by inspired him to continue the project. Now, he creates what he calls “Flower Flashes.”
Believe it or not, there is a lot of preparation behind every one of the beautiful trash can vases you see in these pictures. It all starts with lots and lots of pictures of empty garbage cans, preferably located in well-trafficked areas of the New York. Choosing the right one to beautify can be “tricky”, Lewis says, but he usually keeps an eye out for nearby hand-painted murals or interesting architecture, to use as an appealing backdrop. Then, early in the morning, Lewis and his team will travel to the chosen trash can to arrange the many flowers and plants necessary for the incredible transformation.
“They’re our flowers to New York,” Irini Greenbaum, director of special projects at Lewis Miller Design, told TODAY. “That’s really the message — to gift flowers to New Yorkers for no other reason than to make them smile.”
“If they’re really early risers and they come while we’re making them, they ask us what it’s for,” Greenbaum added. “And we say, ‘It’s for you.’ They truly don’t believe us — that disbelief is very New York.”
After finishing the job, the flower bandits leave the spray-painted signature “LMD x NYC” near each of their colorful vases, so that curious people can search online and find their Instagram page, to see their other trash can arrangements.
Everything is paid for out of Lewis’ own pocket, but he says that seeing the smile on people’s faces when they see the unusual flower arrangements is all the reward he needs.
Photos: Lewis Miller Design/Instagram