Fresh ferns, mums and roses with vibrant pops of pink, orange and blue greeted shoppers walking down Park Street at Five Points. It was so pretty that you almost didn’t realize that the flowers were attached to a trash can as the basis of the arrangement.
It’s all part of Laura Graham’s latest project, a series of ‘flower bombardments’ around the city where the florist surprises local businesses with a temporary art installation using a mix of wire mesh, bamboo and seasonal flowers.
Graham, who owns and operates Soft Day Florals, said she was inspired by New York artist Lewis Miller, known for making “flower flashes” across town in an attempt to make people happy.
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“I was like, why not in Jacksonville? Everyone loves flowers,” she said. “Street floral art is a great way to bring light joy to my neighbors.”
So far Graham has flower-bombarded metal trash cans outside Bold Bean Coffee on Stockton St. and now Sun-Ray Cinemas at Five Points. The installations last two to three days and are made up of leftover material from the weekend weddings she worked on.
“I love that I can reuse flowers from an event that would otherwise be composted,” she said.
Arrangements don’t come cheap. Basic flower installations can start at around $ 500 without considering labor. Graham said the public art she’s made so far has taken around half an hour since the pieces are reused.
“Of course,” she adds, “this time does not include all the labor of growing, harvesting and processing the flowers.”
Graham opened her urban flower farm on a plot of land in the historic Springfield district in 2020 after running a flower farm in Massachusetts, where she grew up. Before embarking on her passion project, she worked as a lawyer for ten years.
Yet since the floral bombshell started in public spaces, something unexpected has happened. People pass by a flower or two, potentially to put in a vase or as a gift to a loved one. On Sun-Ray Cinema’s Instagram page, locals could be seen making small bouquets for themselves – a marginal benefit, according to Graham.
The plan is to appear periodically during the colder months to spark joy and surprise local businesses who have supported the entrepreneur as she starts her own fledgling business.
“Fresh flowers, especially in a large installation, are a luxury item. But at the same time, they are art,” she said. “These ‘flashes’ provide the opportunity to share beautiful flowers with many people who may not normally know them. Plus, they only last about a day. Fresh flowers also teach us how to live in it. ‘moment – they don’t last forever, so enjoy them while they’re here. “
Follow @softdayflorals on Instagram for the latest flower bombs around Jacksonville as they happen.
Emily Bloch is an education reporter for the Florida Times-Union. Follow her on twitter or send him an e-mail. Subscribe to its newsletter.