When One Million Flowers Came to the Meatpacking District

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On a cloudy weekend in mid-June, New York’s Meatpacking District was in full bloom. Bouquets of hydrangeas by McQueen flowers were handed out at Pastis. The Standard served cocktails with edible petals. And over on a cobblestoned corner of Little West 12 Street, in the newly-designated Gansevoort Plaza, a rainbow arch of roses acted as an ethereal (and, well, Instagrammable) entry way into a bountiful bazaar of floral stands, displays, and carts. “It’s all so beautiful,” remarked one passerby to her companion. “What is this all for?”

“In the face of social disharmony, isolation from loved ones and human loss, florals have been a constant healing presence for so many,” florist Elizabeth Lauriello of Van Vliet New York mused.

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Photographed by Caroline Tompkins

London has the Royal Chelsea Flower Show, Amsterdam the Tulip Festival, Hong Kong, its annual expo. And now, New York has L.E.A.F, a contemporary flower show whose inaugural weekend saw 100 florists cover the city in over one million blooms.

Its debut came at a time of renewal for the city. Two weeks before, many of New York’s pandemic-era restrictions were lifted. Restaurants bustled with throngs of wine-addled patrons, the Metropolitan Museum of Art had lines around the block, and on the Lower East Side, you could finally go dancing beneath a disco ball again. Two days later, Governor Cuomo would announce that the state reached a 70 percent adult vaccination rate. “That means we can return to life as we know it,” he wrote on Twitter.

Photographed by Caroline Tompkins
Photographed by Caroline Tompkins

Flowers were a poignant way to mark the dawn of a post-pandemic New York. “In the face of social disharmony, isolation from loved ones and human loss, florals have been a constant healing presence for so many,” florist Elizabeth Lauriello of Van Vliet New York mused. Her L.E.A.F. installation, done in collaboration with PSL Originals, featured a globe composed of green, teal, and blue moss. At the base was an assortment of flowers from around the world meant to signify global healing: there were North American peonies, South American roses, Asian delphiniums, European tulips, African garden roses, and Australian mink ice protea.

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