Read the first of our new monthly Flower Market Reports, where Andrea Caldecourt will be bringing you all the latest flower, plant, foliage and sundry news direct from the Flower Market.
Spring is sprung, de grass is riz – but not much else is, as those of us shivering outside Zones 1-6 can testify.
The record-breaking winter affected supplies of many seasonal European flowers.
Prime example? Gorgeous tazetta narcissi, normally in the market from November, are just arriving from growers in Cornwall and the Scillies.
Happily, this means that instead of being overlooked amid the bling of Christmas, these dainty flowers can take pride of place this month.
Do sniff them out – their fragrance is one of the wonders of spring. (It’s even been made into perfume.) Because they’re outdoor-grown and UK sourced - Cornish first, then later Lincolnshire and Scottish – they’ve got great green credentials.
Don’t wait too long as the narcissi season is short – and very sweet!
Forsythia are just poking their shoots out; anemones are starting to appear;
and amaryllis are abundant in shades of pink, peach, and plum. (Thanks to Jonathan of JE Hart for that recommendation.)
Stunning for events and weddings, their multi-flowered stems are also pretty fabulous as impulse buys for around a fiver retail.
All the seasonal favourites are plentiful: tulips – 50 per wrap for Dutch, and in larger boxes for English; scented hyacinths,
and Italian ranunculus.
Spring plants – daffodils, narcissi, hyacinths, muscari or grape hyacinth, primula, winter pansy and cyclamen – will make very cheery tablecentres, patio pots, window boxes and hanging baskets.
Snap up ready-made pots (well… boats, moss tubs, wicker whirls and silver buckets); or why not offer an all-in-one kit?
The market sells all the compost, containers and plants that you’ll need. Try a few single-colour options, some multi-colour, and see what sells best for you.
Mossy hummocks of selaginella on Evergreen’s stand add welcome touch of emerald green;
and at Pratley’s, pure white hellebores.
Here’s a novel idea for January – roses. I know: we’re coming up Valentine’s next month, and why use thorny roses while there’s nice smooth stems of tulip and amaryllis? But hear me out.
If you’re penny-watching, Bobby on Alagar told me that roses are much cheaper since Christmas. If you’re trendwatching, Colombian and Dutch garden-style “Piano” roses on Bloomfield should get the juices flowing.
Ronnie confided “there’s very seldom a duff rose” from these suppliers. Well, he didn’t say “duff”, exactly…
This colourful Ecuadorian wrap on Bloomfield is a wonderful way of trialling ten varieties at once.
Or for the more adventurous of us, a fast track to one righteously riotous arrangement!
Zest has proconas of UK-grown roses fresh from the rural wilds of Lancashire. Yes, really. It’s like spotting a unicorn running about in the fields.
If you wish you were on a warm sunny beach and not in a freezing workroom – particularly now all the holiday adverts have started on TV, grrr – C Best has a solution.
No, not fake tan. Shells. All sizes, all shapes, plus nautical knick-knacks. (I love saying that.)
Here’s a thought. Fill your shop window with a deck chair, parasol, bright tropical strelitzia and heliconia, glossy palm leaves and seaside shells. It will be just like being abroad. I recommend straw hats as the new staff uniform.
Finally, there’s been a lot of news about the recent VAT rise, now at 20%. My heart goes out to all small business owners who have just changed their invoicing paperwork from 15% back up to 17.5%.
Add to the rise the fuel duty hike, and things can be pretty tough.
Some of my florist sources tell me that charging odd price points - £43.75 for example – helps them absorb price rises and gives an impression of better value.
Why not see how it works for you?
Have your say
What seasonal/in trend flowers and plants will you be using this month?
And is there anything you'd like us to cover in future Market Reports?
Leave your thoughts and comments below.