Floral designer is beautifying the streets of New York with displays for health care workers

(CNN) — Flashes of beauty have bloomed in the most random of places around New York over the past several years — a trash can here, a phone booth there — with surprise displays of flowers.

But amid the pandemic, the floral designer behind them has a renewed sense of purpose.

Lewis Miller, owner of floral design company Lewis Miller Design, has long transformed the city’s most grittiest spots into giant flower displays. He calls them “flower flashes.”

Miller said he just wanted to express his creativity and make New Yorkers smile. In recent weeks, however, he knew that these flower flashes could mean something more — a tribute to those on the front lines.

“With the city being so desolate and people being stuck inside, and it being a cold, dismal spring, we needed hope,” the 45-year-old designer told CNN. “Doing it for the health care workers was a no-brainer because they’re the ones that are out there doing the deed while the rest of us are sequestered inside.”

For his latest flash, Miller and his team set out to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Monday and wrapped flowers in various shades of pink around a lamp post that stood outside the hospital.

People admired it as they walked by, but even more appreciated it on Miller’s Instagram.

“New Jersey hospital worker here and I appreciate your commitment to making the city a more beautiful place,” one person commented on Miller’s post, which has over 17,000 likes.

Like the rest of their flower flashes, Miller and his team didn’t ask for permission so they were told by hospital security to take it down just 30 minutes after finishing their masterpiece.

But the team quickly pivoted their plan to convert the flowers into bud vases and loose flowers to give out to the nurses, doctors and other health care workers passing by.

“So many people cried,” Miller said. “I’m always amazed at the reaction people get when they get flowers. It’s like the last thing on their mind right now. No one is going to buy themselves flowers so for them to just appear is kind of like a unicorn walking down the street.”

In addition to the spontaneous passing out of flowers, Miller was able to donate all the profit from his Flower Flash Boxes to the Greater New York Hospital Association, which amounted to $60,000.

While Miller said he doesn’t know when or where the next flower flash will be, one thing is certain:

New York’s streets have never looked (and smelled) so good.

Floral Designer NYC
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