Bargains for plant & flower lovers

Posted on: 09 August 2010 by Mark O'haire

Find out where horticultural fanatics go for bargain prices and budget buying for plants and flower nurseries from home and abroad.

 Flower MarketColumbia Road Flower Market is a hidden gem for horticultural fanatics with plants, flowers from nurseries in Essex and the Home Counties as well as various countries throughout the world, all on show.

Over 50 plant and flower stalls line up the main road and branch out to the adjacent streets like an olive tree. Little antiques shops and garden orientated shops all squeeze together on both sides of the road selling a mix of goods from fragrances, artefacts, cookware to nibbles and snack bars.

The visitors are as diverse as the merchandise and people from all over the world mingle with each other and chatter with the traders to get the best bargains and at the same time, enjoy the scent and beauty of the flowers and plants.

You find it hard to leave empty handed with the best seasonal selections from evergreen hardy shrubs, ornamental trees, bush roses, climbers, rockery, conifers, herbs, fruit trees, patio and indoor plants to citrus plants, cut flowers or gifts and accessories to suit all tastes.

The market is ideal to get your flowers for occasions such as weddings, birthdays and parties; also trees and plants for your new garden, re-stocking for the bedding or just to add a new colour to the garden. Mothering Sunday, Easter and Christmas periods are the busiest time for the market so make an extra effort to arrive early to avoid disappointment.

The market will save you a huge amount on goods elsewhere, as most prices are just a fraction in comparison with the garden centres and with market traders eager to advertise their bargains.

How to get there

Columbia Road Flower Market, London E2 (off Hackney Road).

Time: 8am to 3pm, every Sunday.

How to get there: Tube (Old Street/ Liverpool Street/ Shoreditch High Street) Bus (8, 26, 48, 55, 388 & 243).

Further reading:  

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Tips for visitors

  1. Do visit the vintage furniture shop at Hackney Road (top of Columbia Road) and the oriental supermarket opposite which has produce as good as Chinatown.
  2. Remember to bring some heavy duty carrier bags with enough space to accommodate at least two trays of 5-inch pots (an Ikea blue plastic carrier would be perfect). Most stall traders will only give you supermarket-style carrier bags.
  3. The market can get very busy at times so beware when bringing toddlers, young children and dogs.
  4. A few shops at the top of the road are a must to visit: The pots and planters shop with a wide range of ‘Lead Planter’ in different sizes and shapes; cookware shop specialising in ‘white’ chinaware; the oriental home-ware shop with unusual bowls and plates plus Japanese lacquered trays.
  5. There aren't many car parking spaces available so be ready to walk a little if not arriving by public transport.
  6. Arrive around 1pm - 2pm for the extreme bargains, especially the stall at the top on the left-hand side when you walk towards the market. The traders sell in a reverse auction style, with winners needing to collect their goods within 30 seconds (certainly not for the fainted-hearted).
  7. Do visit the stalls specialising in bulbs, herbs, orchids, citrus and olive trees; they are ideal to give away as gifts to accompany with a nice pot.
  8. Do have a budget in mind to spend and most importantly, are you able to carry your purchases home or arrange alternative transport.
  9. Pick a dry day to visit.
  10. Great alternative markets can be found on Petticoat Lane in Middlesex Street with its bargain clothes and household items and Brick Lanes for bric-a-brac.

That’s all folks, more to come next time.

The Shopaholic

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