As a florist based in London, I rely on New Covent Garden Flower Market. As I have been traveling around Japan and particularly America, I have realised how much I took this flower market for granted. In London, we are so so lucky to have one of the largest flower markets in the world on our doorstep. At O&S we rarely ordered flowers in advance. We only did so when special requests came in, or if something was out of season and we had to order it i especially for a client or a wedding, or if we needed more of something that had run out or if a particular colour wasn't available at the market. However the way that I (and at O&S) work, is that we base our arrangements and designs on seasonal produce. We are often given a colour scheme to work with and a couple of preferred flowers, but then the rest is up to us. This is when we explore the market in the coming days before the event and see what is in season in the colours that we require.
It really is a wonderful place and it is open the public as well as professionals. It can be a little intimidating at first coming into this vast arena of flowers. However, don't let that deter you, be curious, walk around, ask questions, be respectful, give the vendors a smile (remember - they've been up since our bedtime). Go and see Tony at the cafe - our favourite place to grab a tea and a ham and cheese croissant.
This video below is something I wanted to share with you guys as it showcases why this flower market is the market behind every great florist. Duncan McCabe from McQueens florist collaborated with market and Rona Wheeldon of Flowerona to create this video to show the public why we believe in this statement. I appear at around the two minute mark, if anyone is even interested... :p
The wholesalers we use are Zest flowers and G B foliage, but we always walk around and explore the rest of the market to see what is around. However we have established a strong relationship with these cheeky chappies and we will often stay much longer than we need to, because we have such a laugh and banter with these guys. I mean look how happy we are in this video...!
It's funny how calm and collected I look especially as I get very nervous in front of a camera. I feel awkward and fidgety and never know where to put my hands. I prefer being behind the lens. :p
I have come a long way however, and have learnt that talking about what I love is not scary and something I need to embrace. You would never know that minutes before this being filmed, I was shaking in my boots.
Having been in America now for about a month and a half, traveling and learning with other florists, stylists and photographers, I have realised how much more tricky it is to be a florist out here. Of course it differs from state to state and city to city, but generally speaking most florists have to order from all over the country and all over the world in advance. The most frequently used places are wholesalers in California, Ecuador, Netherlands and then some. Each florist has their own list of preferred wholesalers and farmers, and some are lucky enough to be near a wholesaler market, or farms. The West Coast of America in particular, where these are more prevalent. San Francisco has an amazing Flower market that is vast, as well as many flower farms in the surrounding Sonoma Valley and Napa valley areas, such as Front Porch Flower Farm where I recently picked my own flowers from and did a collaborative photo shoot with Chloris Floral (blog post to come soon on this).
There are flower farms in Portland Oregon - a lovely lady I met recently runs one called Petala Flower Farm, where she grows her own flowers and vegetables in her yard and delivers locally to farmers markets.
Then there is of course the ever-famous Floret Flower Farm who have really made a name for themselves. Erin of Floret, is an amazing business woman and has continually inspired me to progress my business further. I would encourage you to read her interviews for Design Sponge here (on how to being the face of her business) and here (how to grow a great team).
So the list goes on. I encourage you to search your area to find local flower farms and wholesalers.
In London, we try and use British grown flowers where we can, however it can be tricky sometimes.
Chelsea flower show start tomorrow May 24th until May 28th. Okishima & Simmonds exhibited last year, see photos below and read the full blog post about the behind the scenes and the full experience here.
New Covent Garden Flower Market are exhibiting here this year as part of the "Behind Every Great Florist" title. You can find more information about it on the NCGFM website here.