"March comes in with adders' heads and out with peacocks' tails", says an old Scottish saying.
Well, I saw no snake parts in the Market, but Deano’s has peacock feathers...
What March has, is fragrance in abundance. This blog isn’t scratch n’ sniff, so whiz to Vauxhall for a real nose treat.
My nose discovered this fantastic rose before my eyes did. Stunning colour - blue-tinged magenta – but its smell is the draw.
If your customers complain that roses have lost their scent, wave a stem of “Mammy Blue” at them. And maybe belt out a little Al Jolson.
(I also made a note of a rose next to it; when you need that elusive café-latte/werthers original/Chanel beige shade – "Combo" is the name.)
For more perfume: hyacinths in every colour; pastel phlox; freesias; fleshy plump tuberose,
and of course, narcissi.
March 1st is St David’s Day and the humble daffodil is the flower to wear, if you have even the slightest speck of Welsh in your DNA.
Saul at Pratley's helpfully talked me through the UK-grown options available.
If your turnover is slower, and 2-3 extra days in bud would be helpful, ask for "Carlton". If your customers like to see colour in their daff, then "Dutch Master" is your puppy; it opens with confidence.
Unspiked daffs - no leaves packed with them - are slightly lighter weight; at 25p a bunch from Jersey they’re a pricewinner. Indoor-grown spiked ones - with leaves - are heavier and have more presence, at 80p. You pays your money and takes your choice.
There’s all sorts of fancy narcissi right through the market : boxed, wrapped or on water.
Just as golden, fluffy puffs of acacia flowers – Evergreen’s trees are around 4ft in old money, or about chest height; Pratley's has shorter ones that will just tickle your ankles.
Tulips create a wave of colour – slender English in boxes, cello-packed in 5s; chunky Dutch in paper wraps of 50; tall elegant French in 5s and 10s, swaddled in mesh nets.
The juicy citrus-coloured "Sunlover" is almost ranunculus-like in its voluptuousness.
At Evergreen, "stonking" lily of the valley - £4.50 a pot but oozing sweet fragrance and quality;
and Primula vulgaris – primrose to you and me – looking fresh and perky. (Its multi-coloured relative the primula is racing out by the trayful.)
Flamboyant frilled azalea is in full flounce at Arnott & Mason. They also recommend cymbidium orchids, regal and dramatic; and spotted green-brown slipper orchids.
For lovers of the esoteric and unusual, widow iris are here!
So if you lust for their mysterious olive and black allure then run, don’t walk, to John Austin, Zest, or Boomerang before their short season ends.
Spotted at SR Allen, khaki-purple bells of Fritillaria uva. Equally dainty, trays of snowdrops and anemone blanda; cut stems of velvety clematis at Alagar; and charming "snowflakes", or Leucojum, like a superhero snowdrop.
Love blue? Gentian, monkshood and agapathus are available now, plus exuberantly large hydrangeas in soft powdery shades.
Porters has every kind of pussy willow – tiny, giant, slender, fat, velvety, furry, silver and grey buds; chocolate, copper, grey and green bark; slim stems or bushy branches; catkins… Flowering viburnum is drawing to the end of its season; while native cherry blossom is just starting.
More fragrance at GB Foliage: fat bunches of rosemary, and beautiful eucalyptus;
plus super-tall camellia branches, and most tantalising, the proceeds of a garden in Cornwall which hasn’t been cut for twenty years. What treasures lay behind those walls? Come and find out…
PS. If your Valentine’s Day was all work and no romance, may I recommend Adil at GB Foliage?
He is "lively, exciting and looking for love", he tells me. Don’t hang about… spring doesn’t last for ever!