Hay Fever Day

Adding insult to injury, each year Canberra celebrates Hay Fever Day by filling the thousands of empty hoops which are attached to every static vertical thing in Civic with petuniae. For eight months of each year these rusty coloured rings stand in idle anticipation of November 12, awaiting their plastic tubs filled with petunias to pretty up our manifestly dull metropolitan ambience. And see how sensitively relevant they are to our urban environment?


Of course these thousands of pots require twice weekly watering, which provides employment, and makes good use of our dwindling water resources. The petuniae, you’ll be please to know, have been genetically modified so that they do not release any pollen into the air. The only remaining question that worries The Iconophile is: what does the petunia farm produce in these idle summer months?


#1 kate on 11.13.09 at 10:23 am

I have always identified these plant as petunias. Are petunias part of the nasturtium family?
I have nasturtiums(orange or yellow flowering) in my garden flowering at present, they are a bit of a climber and taste like honey suckle, you can also eat the broad leaves, slightly peppery, good in a sandwich. Please clarify. Thanks

#2 Nigel on 11.13.09 at 12:29 pm

Yes I stand corrected! But gosh don’t you wish you were a fly on the wall with a phone camera when the decisions were being made? Cost of hoops, contract to supply petunias each year, cost of keeping them alive, and then, let’s not discuss the effect of the empty hoops for the rest of the year… What’s next on the Agenda? Any other kitsch? The Giant Plastic Tulips need repainting for next year’s Floriade, the unfinished signage from two years ago…

#3 kate on 11.13.09 at 12:50 pm

Dare I say that for some people they may find the floral displays cheerful at this time of year?

If the effects of the empty hoops are of concern perhaps we can suggest a different plant to occupy them during the remainder of the year.
When were the hoops first put in adn how much did they cost then. Surely over the years their value has been well served. Actually I don’t think petunias cause hayfever either

#4 Nigel on 11.13.09 at 1:21 pm

The hoops and petunias were first installed this time last year! Cheerful? Off a low base, perhaps… It’s the general run-down, nobody cares, cheapskate ambience of the city centre that saddens me…

#5 Megxx on 11.13.09 at 5:23 pm

When I first saw them last year I was appalled – they’re totally hidi-arse. I’ve no problem with pots of flowers per se, but these are totally the wrong scale, and look absolutely naff and tragic. Either get bigger/classier pots or fuck ’em off altogether for chrissake. Serious lack of style – they just look silly. And particularly down an avenue of gum trees…who on earth makes these decisions?

#6 Megxx on 11.14.09 at 9:10 am

ps ‘scuse my language(…!)

#7 Pammy Faye on 11.14.09 at 8:58 pm

Are these on Northborne Ave? If so I must say I’ve rarely seen more than the odd lost tourist wandering this particular median strip. I fear the intended cheer has likely a small audience.

#8 Kevin on 11.20.09 at 5:01 pm

I have heard that this cost about $1.5m

#9 missey on 11.26.09 at 9:26 am

My first post- what a lot of snotty comments- I walk thru Canberra CBD every morning- the putuniae look fantastic, they are not just on Northbourne Ave but all around the City a welcome splash of colour. Canberra’s winters are very severe and I can’t think of an alternate species of plant that would be suitable for growing in the pots in winter.

#10 Nigel on 11.27.09 at 9:19 am

Dear Missy, thanks for your comment – it’s all a matter of taste – don’t you feel we need a design makeover not just a mass of plastic flower pots? Then again, some people like the depressed country town look and feel…

#11 missey on 11.27.09 at 10:39 am

Dear Nigel,

Canberra City could surely benefit from a design makover as you suggested. Consultants would be called in and a draft design plan would be drawn up and a committee would asses the merits of each proposal….meanwhile…give me break!!!!…at least some Canberra CBD are doing something to address the “depressed country town look”. Give those petunai a few more hot sunny days and they will drape beautifully.

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