5th April 2017
Florist, writer and Londoner, Daisy Allsup visits New Covent Garden Flower Market several times a week. Her company Flowers By Daisy, provides creative, colourful flowers for events, parties and photoshoots, as well as flower subscriptions where the emphasis is always on British blooms. Daisy is also founder of The Iris Letter, a brilliant, monthly arts' newsletter written by young women living and working in London. To celebrate the opening of the brand new New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms this week, Daisy shares her top 10 tips for how to make the most out of your visit.
1. Don’t stress about getting there at 4am. 6-8am is fine – and wrap up warm, it’s always freezing!
2. Entry costs £5 for cars and vans and is free for pedestrians. The postcode for your sat nav is SW8 5EH or its 5 minutes’ walk from Vauxhall station.
3. Flowers are sold in ‘wraps’ of 50 stems a pop. Traders are usually loathe to split these into smaller quantities. Some will do so if you ask with a smile.
4. Bring cash if you’re buying in small quantities. And don’t forget, prices are usually quoted without VAT, which adds 20% to your final bill.
5. Open your eyes and look carefully for quality. Buy in bud rather than in bloom. Don’t be afraid to shop around and buy different flowers from different stands – quality varies day-to-day. This month I love butterfly ranunculus, bluebells and British anemones.
6. Make a beeline for the British stands – Pratley’s for cut flowers and plants, GB Foliage for branches of blossom, herbs and all manner of spring foliage plus Smith & Munson offer the perfect spring tulips that come wrapped in lovely paper, all grown in Lincolnshire. Do ask stallholders to point out the British-grown sections. From now until October we should only be buying home-grown. It’s often cheaper too.
7. Don’t get hung up on a certain flower. Go with an open mind and buy whatever is most beautiful that day. There are so many varieties to choose from so be flexible rather than arriving with a list and restricting yourself to peonies, sweet peas and other favourites.
8. There are plants a plenty. This month I am obsessing over cowslips and oxlips at Pratley’s. These come in trays of 10 and are very cheap but it’s unusual to see them in London as they usually grow wild in the woods. They transport me straight to that lovely Shakespeare verse, ‘I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, where oxlips and the nodding violet grows.’
Of course houseplants and succulents are very ‘in’ right now and Arnott and Mason offer the best selection but I’m a colour person so they aren’t so much for me. I do buy lily of the valley, muscari and other plants and trees at Quality Plants.
9. Don’t forget your sundries. This a florist’s term for all the extra things you need like twine, florist’s scissors, buckets, wire, vases and pots. Whittington’s is great for basics; look out for long dinner candles and wired ribbon. Quality Plants have pretty scalloped containers and excellent plant pots. For vases I love the ever-changing selection at The Flower Store at Bloomfield.
10. Finally, a bacon sarnie from the cafe is a must!
Contact Daisy on 07523055579 or FlowersbyDaisy and follow her on instagram @flowersbydaisy for cheering flowers on your feed!