The Unexpected History of Sydney’s Biggest Spring Flower Show

David Jones flower show

Twenty floral installations have sprung up today, September 1, at David Jones’ Elizabeth Street flagship store, as part of the retailer’s annual Spring Flower Show. This year, the displays were inspired by Australia’s underwater wonderworld.

As it has for the past 32 years, David Jones collaborated with Seedflora for the show. Florist George Low reimagined sublime aquatic ecosystems, bringing them in-store with 40,000 individual stems, 300,000 individual blooms, 200 potted plants and over 40 different flower species, including paper daisy, chrysanthemum and baby’s breath. The installations took over 860 hours and 13 florists to put together.

“Having taken inspiration from the ocean for this year’s theme, we’re using fresh blooms to represent the new life that spring brings,” says Low.

David Jones Flower Show
Image: David Jones Spring Flower Show 2022
David Jones Flower Show
Image: David Jones Spring Flower Show 2022
David Jones Flower Show
Image: David Jones Spring Flower Show 2022

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“I love the process of selecting each of the flowers and sometimes travel over two hours just to see the varieties. It’s important to support our Australian growers, which we’ve done this year by using more local and native flowers than ever before — they’re both beautiful and long-lasting.”

David Jones flower show
Image: David Jones Spring Flower Show 2013

The flower show, in various iterations, has an 82-year history, first starting with a simple act. In the 1920s, staff would bring in flowers from their gardens and place them on counters to celebrate the beginning of spring. This eventually grew into a more formalised event, first as a festival and then in 1985, becoming the annual David Jones Flower Show.

Since then, the Elizabeth Street store has bloomed every September — apart from the last year when it was cancelled due to COVID. Taking months to prepare, the show support growers from around NSW and attracts visitors from hundreds of kilometres away.

Highlights throughout the years have included 2013’s show, which paid homage to the work of artist Florence Broadhurst with an explosion of colour and 2014’s celebration, which saw fragrance houses like Marc Jacobs and Chanel each creating their own brilliant window features.

David Jones flower show (2)
Image: David Jones Spring Flower Show 2018

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In 2018, the show incorporated an enormous Instagram-worthy lion sculpture sleeping under an abundance of pastel petals, and in 2020, the show featured a permanent rooftop apiary on the roof of the Elizabeth Street store, with five beehives and around 400,000 bees.

This year, David Jones partnered with non-profit volunteer organisation Rethink Recycling Co-op to support the reduction of plastic waste and repurpose the use of hard-to-recycle lids by creating a giant, recyclable fish sculpture.

David Jones flower show
Image: David Jones Spring Flower Show 2010

Dubbed ‘Bud, the 1.2m fish sculpture is made entirely from repurposed materials, including over 10,000L of plastic lids saved from landfill. Bud will be donated to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium after the show wraps up, where it’ll live permanently.

“This year’s flower show is a significant and exciting event for both our customers and staff, given this is the first we’ve been able to host in two years,” says Wendy Rafferty, David Jones Elizabeth Street Store Manager. “It’s an incredible way to welcome the new season and we’re thrilled to invite customers into the store and see it come to life along with our incredible new season offering.”

Guests will be welcomed into the store with a champagne bar on the ground level, and have the option to a book flower show tour and a high tea afterwards on level 7, which will include a complimentary glass of Mumm Champagne.

The Spring Flower Show will be on display Thursday, September 1 to Sunday, September 11.

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