Tuesday, December 2, 2008

San Francisco Flower Mart - Part II

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are “market days” at the San Francisco Flower Mart. Wholesale hours on market days are from 2 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Yes, you read that right, the market opens at two in the morning! I read somewhere that the top designers in the area consider all the good stuff gone by three a.m. I have never been there when the market opens. My friends and I often threaten to go to San Francisco for a night out and then stay up until the market opens, just to see what this good stuff really is.

I usually go after I send my kids off to school which means I don’t get to the mart until 8:30ish. The earliest I’ve ever been there is 4:30 a.m. and I saw a difference in the product offerings. I saw flowers in unusual colors or new varieties that are in short supply. By 8:30, those specialty flowers are long gone. I can only imagine what is available at 2 a.m.

Wednesdays are the busiest days because that’s when most designers buy their flowers for weekend events. The mart is bustling with buyers from all over Northern California, the fragrance is at its headiest, and the parking lot is hopelessly congested.

It often reminds me of that fabulous flower market scene in “My Fair Lady” (especially minutes 3 through 5):

Non-market days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The flower growers get to sleep in and show up at 5 in the morning. The Flower Mart is open to the public from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. six days a week.

I have my favorite vendors at the Flower Mart; you met some of them yesterday. Brannan Street Wholesale Florist and Torchio Nursery carry a great variety of flowers with consistent high quality. They are pricey, but you get what you pay for.

The day that Treasurehunter joined me, Brannan Street had the sweetest nosegays that flower girls in a wedding party would love to carry:

I asked someone to hold one up for me to show how delicate and sweet these bouquets were.

They also offer beautiful fruits and vegetables. In fact, this is where I bought many of the materials for the della robia arrangement Tracy and I made.

The long-stemmed artichokes I bought from Torchio Nursery:

Vickie (left - top photo), at Florist at Large , is the most personable vendor at the mart. Her sister Valerie collects greens and mushrooms all over the Bay Area. They creates the most lovely still lifes of their findings:

Blossom Valley is my favorite place to buy gerbera daisies and cut orchids:

Shibata’s tropical flowers are beautiful:

Shibata is also a great place to buy floral supplies including ribbons:

Coast Wholesale Florist carries fabulous dry flowers, silk flowers,

sea shells and other novelties to enhance your designs. I know Robin Bird will like these:

It’s a good thing flowers are perishable, because that means that I have to return time and time again.


Emily said...

I'm drooling here in land locked, frozen Kansas!!

Red Shoes said...

Thank you for showing us such beautiful things!

A Cuban In London said...

Blimey, 2am? That's a tad bit too early for me, too. However after having a butcher's through your images I can understand why. Thanks a lot for your post.

Greetings from London.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Jemm,
I would love to learn where you buy your flowers in Kansas!

Dear Red Shoes,
I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. There is so much beauty at the Flower Mart, it's child's play getting good images.

Dear Cuban,
I had to look up what "having a butcher's" meant. I'm impressed, you're a Cuban speaking Cockney! Thank you for teaching me a new phrase.

Emily said...

We usually just order from a wholesale florist out of Kansas City. So, I'm not always entirely sure where they come from. Usually California :), Florida, Ecuador (I hope I spelled that correctly), Columbia. We have shipped directly from Columbia before. Communication was a little difficult though. In the summer months there is a local grower we buy from.

robin laws said...

you are truly a floral connoisseur! it would be delightful to accompany you one morning at 5am. no doubt about it.. the unique and fresh are worth the early cup of coffee and bleary eyes. great captures diana!!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Jemm,

Very interesting. My floristry teacher told us how lucky we were to have SF Flower Mart. Having looked for other flower marts in other cities, I think she's quite right.

Yes, you spelled Ecuador correctly. I had the great privilege of spending a week there in 2007. I will do few posts of our experiences there.

Dear Robinbird,

I was hoping you would say that! :) You're on! They even have a very nice restaurant that serves a great old-fashioned breakfast and decent coffee.

Relyn Lawson said...

When I get to see you, I vote to stay up all night and then go at 2:00. I'm a night hawk. I haven't seen 5:00 a.m. in years. But, for you...

Dutchbaby said...

I'll let you and Robin decide; I'm flexible. I can't wait to show you around!

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