This is a guest post by one of my best friends from high school. She just started a travel blog, The Digi Diaries, and I’m so proud of her! Here is her recap of the Chelsea Flower District. I definitely want to make a trip there soon!
There’s a place in New York City where the air is so sweet even in the summer months when the city’s less appealing smells seem to be everywhere. I’m referring to the stretch of 28th street between 6th and 7th Avenue where about a dozen flower shops and wholesalers line the block disseminating fresh, floral scents. Most New Yorkers, including myself (until now), never happen upon this oasis because the historic flower district opens for business in the wee hours of morning before sunrise. From 5am on, die-hard flower enthusiasts and professional arrangers peruse the morning’s offerings. Once they are finished, amateurs like me arrive around 7am to see what’s left and perhaps leave with a bundle or two. I arrived on a gray Thursday morning around 7:15am and was surprised to see virtually no flowers along the street as I turned on to 28th from 7th Avenue. While I had done research before coming, I began to panic. Am I too late? Is it only on the weekends? As I made my toward 6th Avenue I quickly came across my first of the florists and then soon saw trees, patches of grass and sunflowers sitting along the pavement.
I looked into the narrow shops as I passed and saw rows of plants and flowers running deep into the tunnel-like stores. I thought about stopping but I was anxious about entering stores and taking pictures if I didn’t plan on buying anything (what did I need with four batches of hydrangeas). When I spotted a wall of roses in shades of pink, red, orange and peach, I knew I had to take a closer look. As I entered, the shop owner appeared from behind a shelf and I instantly freaked out. I took a quick look, said thanks and walked out. Before I knew it I had made it to the other end of the block. I wondered if that was it. I had gotten about 4 pictures, none of them spectacular and it was only 7:23am. I ventured a few blocks downtown and got a coffee where I mustered up the courage to go back. After all I did wake up early for a reason.
I took a slower pace on the return trip down the block and was already feeling more relaxed (thanks caffeine!). I spoke to the shop owner and asked him questions about the wholesale flower trade, pricing and if he would sell me one packet (as I learned florists called them) of roses. He was very friendly and helpful, and I was thrilled when he agreed. I had no plans to purchase flowers but for a reasonable price, I was going to be the proud new owner of a dozen roses. He waited for me to select the ones I wanted and a new dilemma unfolded.
After much deliberation and several selections that I then reneged, I happily settled on a packet of Circus roses that were yellow with hints of orange and red along each petal’s edge. As I payed the lovely man who put up with my indecisiveness while allowing and might I say even encouraging me to photograph his beautiful inventory of flowers, my roses were expertly wrapped to ensure they survived the subway journey home. I was handed the heavy brown paper parcel along with my receipt with the store’s card stapled to it. I promised I would come back as I left and couldn’t stop smiling and adjusting my grip on the flowers as I headed back uptown to show off my floral finds.
I was leaving the city for the Hamptons that afternoon, so I decided keep the roses in their tidy package and placed the stem tips in water. They made the two hour journey sitting next to me in the car, and as soon as I got to the house I ran into the kitchen to finally unveil them. I had already forgotten what they looked like, so I was so pleased to unwrap each layer of the package and see beautiful warm tones appear. I was also shocked to discover that I in fact had purchased two dozen roses. What a steal! I got flower shears and started gently cutting the extremely long stems.
I studied each rose and gently removed the excess leaves from the stems as I placed them into the tall glass vase. After some rearranging, the bouquet was complete. My trip to the Chelsea Flower District could not have been more perfect especially since I get to admire these gorgeous roses all weekend long.