Tales of a City Girl

Flower fan? Get yourself to Columbia Road Flower Market

If you want your balcony or garden to be something other than where spiders hang out, flowers are one of the cheapest and best ways to inject personality and charm. If you’re not fortunate enough to have outdoor space of your own, flowers and plants are a way to bring nature to your indoor space too. But don’t just pick up a drab bunch or window box from the supermarket or your local Homebase.

There are lots of reasons I am drawn to Columbia Road. First and foremost, obviously, are the flowers themselves. Stalls are packed in like dominos all down the road, each boasting crates and crates of richly colourful and diverse flowers. Whether you’re after a bunch of roses, some geraniums, some herbs – or something a bit different (banana tree, anyone?) Columbia Road will satisfy you.

Secondly, it’s  wonderfully cheap and you can get some beautiful plants for only a fiver or so. Although a lot of the plants are geared more towards bulk buying than a couple of small blooms. So think more a case of fifteen bedding plants rather than one or two pots.

It’s way too easy to go overboard though, so I’d recommend you take cash. Another good (yet risky) tip is to get there quite late in the day, where you can pick up some extremely cheap bargains from market traders looking to clear their stock.

The market traders themselves also have to be one of the biggest draws of Columbia Road.

These are people who have established their lives here. One guy, George, has had a stall there since 1949. You weren’t even a twinkle in your parents’ eyes at that point, mate. There’s real passion here, with families and husband and wife teams the norm. The sales patter and sense of fun is brilliant. The traders are as jostling and vibrant as the stalls themselves and I love hearing the heavy buzz of conversation volleyed around as I squeeze down the street.

The only street flower market in Europe apart from Barcelona, Columbia Road has gone a long way since its history as a pathway from which sheep were driven to the slaughterhouses at Smithfield and I urge you to spend a Sunday there yourselves.

Columbia Road Flower Market is run every Sunday from 8am -3pm. More information can be found on the Columbia Road website.

Image: This one is actually from me! Which may explain why it’s a bit crap. Anyone who wants to be my photographer (you get to work for free! And follow me around!) please approach me for this invaluable opportunity.