An Insider’s Guide to getting the best out of the Sydney Flower Market.
Ria Gambling, Bloombox Co’s customer experience guru shows you what to expect when you visit the Sydney Flower Market on one of their popular Saturday trading days, with tried and tested flower market tips at the bottom.
Ever wondered where and how florists get their beautiful in-season blooms?
Before joining the floral industry I thought about it every time I walked by a stunning bunch of flowers. Where is this magical wholesale place that must smell so fresh and sweet, and how can I get myself there? Good news fellow Sydney flower lovers, the Sydney Flower Market is based just in Flemington and is open Monday to Saturday 5am-11am, with an especially public friendly day on Saturday.
The Sydney Flower Markets is the main hub for the flower industry in NSW, with growers, wholesalers and florists all meeting to trade in the wee hours, 6 days a week. It’s a treasure trove of floral discoveries and purportedly one of the most unstructured commercial flower markets in the world. At times you’ll see a markets member roll up with 2 buckets of lily of the valley from his garden, or hear one of the traders unleash their operatic talents. It’s well worth a visit for any flower lover on a Saturday.
It’s an early start…
I’m no stranger to the markets these days and am regularly there early to source the best of the best local flowers for our Bloombox Co subscribers, but I’ve never ventured in on one of their famed Saturday market days, so thought I’d check it out and share the experience with you. My alarm went off at 4:30am; and even though it’s always tough to coax myself out of the warmth of bed, the excitement of seeing what’s on offer far outweighs the sleepiness for me.
As I walked through the door I’m greeted with a heady fragrance of freshness and an impressive selection. There were around 20 growers and wholesalers with stalls the week I visited, but this can fluctuate depending on the season. I found everything from gorgeously fluffy native Banksia to fringed Tulips, Unicorn Babies Breath (yep you read that right, it’s a thing!) and of course, a massive selection of roses in bloom. But if you’re looking for something a bit longer lasting, you can also find a good selection of plants; Orchids, Cyclamen and cute little succulents to name a few, all at dangerously tempting prices!
As it’s the end of the flower week for trade, most of what’s available is already in bloom so don’t expect top quality. For most traders, the Saturday markets are a way to move stock before it perishes. BUT, if you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful flower hit, this is THE place to do it. It might not last quite as long, but it’ll be beautiful while it does!
While you’re here you can also swing into APack floristry supplies near the top of the markets hall, to snag a few cheap vases to house your flower haul.
I find it hard to resist when it comes to flowers and this visit wasn’t any different, so I picked up some gorgeous Icelandic Poppies, my favourite bicoloured peach Carnations and some bright pink mini Gladioli all for $26, mixed in with some Eucalyptus I already had at home, I put together three vases of colourful joy!
It’s safe to say that prices are cheaper on a Saturday and the later you go to the markets, the better the deal will be but as it’s the end of the flower week so don’t expect top quality and remember what mum’s always told you – you get what you pay for!
Sydney Flower Market Tips
How to get there by car: I arrived at the markets just after 5am and was instantly thrilled to find out that parking is free on a Saturday (usually $10 during the week) and there was plenty of it. $10 extra for flowers!
If you’re early, nab a parking spot right near the main hall, otherwise, there is plenty of parking in the public multi-storey carpark just across the road
How to get there by train: If you’re looking to get there by train, pop off at Flemington station (about a 25 minute train ride from Central), and walk across the pedestrian bridge to get into the markets. Just watch out for zippy forklifts reversing at a million miles an hour.
Best time to go. If getting there for 5am isn’t filling you with excitement, you can head there anytime up until it closes at 11am, just be prepared to find a rapidly diminishing selection of blooms the later you leave it.
Bring cash. Old school traders here who are looking to clear quickly! Waving a credit card here won’t bring you any love, but probably will bring you an extra charge. There’s an ATM near the top of the markets hall, or a Commonwealth Bank ATM about 2 minutes walk away.
Bring buckets. As you know, flowers do best in water, so pop a couple of buckets and bottles of water in your car before you go – particularly if you’ve got a long drive home. Most traders won’t wrap your flowers for you.
Stop and … check the roses. With so much floral abundance, it’s easy to get carried away with buying cheap flowers! But before you drop cash on yet another bunch, take the time to lift it out of the bucket and make sure the stems and foliage aren’t looking slimy or or brown. A couple of faded outer petals can be easily pulled away but you don’t want rotting stems or floppy flower heads.
To bargain or not to bargain? Bring a bit of cheek! You might be able to bargain your way into a deal, or get an extra bunch tossed in for free – particularly later in the morning when the traders are keen to move stock that won’t last long. You’re more likely to wangle a sweet deal on flowers that are already open, versus longer lasting premium flowers like natives. But don’t take it too seriously, as it’s all a bit of fun.
So, if this chilly winter is getting you down and a little bit of creativity is what you need in your life, grab a friend or two and give the markets a visit. You’ll come away with some beautiful blooms to add a little colour to your home and hopefully cure those winter blues! That said, we more than understand dragging yourself out of bed at 4am on a Saturday may not be your idea of a good time. If you’d rather we did all the hard work for you while you sip on your favourite coffee (who could blame you!), take the quiz and set up your very own regular Bloombox Co delivery instead.
Based in Melbourne? You can tour the wholesale flower markets there, check out Phil’s review of the Melbourne Wholesale Flower Markets tour.