Inside the New Book Celebrating the “Banksy of Flowers”

In April 2020, just as New York City became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, doctors, nurses, and weary pedestrians walking near Mount Sinai Hospital found themselves faced with an unusual yet beautiful sight: a city-issued trash can overflowing with cherry blossoms and lilacs. Almost immediately, photos of the arrangement began springing up across social media. “Walked by one of these on the way to the hospital,” one commenter wrote. “It brought me such much happiness. Thank you.”

Who could be responsible for such a gorgeous guerrilla work? Many New Yorkers already knew the answer: Lewis Miller.

Known colloquially across the city as the “Bansky of Flowers,” Miller has adorned urban streets and sidewalks with surprise arrangements for over five years now. The idea came after a period of creative unfulfillment for Miller. While he’d built a successful career for himself as the go-to florist for fabulous weddings and fancy galas, he felt frustrated that only the upper echelon of society got to see his work.

Photo: Irini Arakas Greenbaum

“The reality was that no matter how exquisite the flowers I brought to these celebrations were, they were destined to be enjoyed by only a lucky few,” he writes in his new book, Flower Flash, published November 2 by Monacelli Press. “I felt a strong urge to do something for all my fellow New Yorkers, in a meaningful way that was true to who I am and what I do.

So with some help from his director of special projects, Irini Arakas Greenbaum, in October 2016, he created his first “random act of beauty.” Upper West Siders woke up to find the John Lennon Memorial decorated with 2,000 dahlias and carnations, all recycled from an event Miller did the night before.

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