A Guide to the Sydney Flower Market at Flemington
We rise up super early to get the freshest flowers from the Sydney Flower Market, preferring locally grown flowers to imports when we can.
It's the place where all the florists and floral designers congregate in the wee hours of morning.
It's the place where all the flower growers and sellers come to, typically between midnight-2am, to set up their stock and are still smiling at 4.30am when we arrive.
I love the flower markets at Flemington - apart from the parking situation - it's like the perfect paradise for me! The Sydney Flower Market is also accessible by the rest of the public - granted you'd need to get up earlier than you what you're probably used to. So for flower lovers and DIY enthusiasts, the flower market is a haven - you won’t believe your eyes when you arrive for the first time, you'll be blinded by the range available!
This is a guide for those who haven't been before, or were so overwhelmed by their first time that they want to be super prepared for their next trip.
The Key Facts
The market trades every morning, except Sundays, officially from 5-11am but really, the growers are starting to pack up from around 8.30am and most of what's good would have been sold by typically 6.30-7am.
Flower growers from all around the NSW region come to sell here, as it is the primary avenue between those that grow flowers and those that sell flowers as a product or service, to make a living.
There's a few types of sellers: fully local growers, sellers who are imports-only, and those who do a mix of both. When it comes to imports, it can be either coming from overseas or interstate. Some of the sellers only show up on some days, some every day, and some are super casual. Those who are more casual won't necessarily be in the same position every time.
Like any wholesale market, flowers are sold in bunches of the same variety and left unconditioned. What this means is thorns haven’t been removed, foliage on the stems, outer dirty petals etc… basically everything that a florist would do when they bring the flowers from market back to their studio, before selling it in an arrangement to the public.
Monday, Wednesday and Fridays are the busiest trade days, in particular the latter due to Saturday weddings. Tuesday is usually quite slow and Thursdays moderate. Saturdays are pretty average since a lot more public show up, than florists and designers, and typically everything that’s unsold by the end of the week needs to be sold off on Saturday!
It's a wholesale market.
You may have heard people exclaim how “cheap” the flowers are at the market.
It's true, it is cheap. But that’s because it is ‘wholesale’.
Think of it as if you were a fashion designer, needing to source and purchase fabric from fabric wholesale manufacturers in order to create your garments. This is no different. The flower market is akin to the fabric manufacturer. It’s literally the “raw material” being supplied to the rest of the industry, which the purchaser will then use to design and create something out of it.
Hypothetically if a bunch of roses at the market cost $10 - do you think you’d be able to pay for a bunch of roses at your local florist for $10? Definitely not! Not only would the florist need to have driven to the market to source his/her roses, travel back to their shop/studio, condition the flowers before arranging, create the arrangement, wrap it up…. and that’s not to mention shop rent costs, petrol, car/van costs, labour costs, branding, shop staff etc… all that needs to be accounted for in the ‘mark up’ of those flowers so the florists can successfully operate a business long term.
The only key difference with our industry is that the Sydney Flower Market is also directly accessible to the general public, whilst with a lot of other industries, their wholesale market is more limited in accessibility.
8 tips for newbie flower market goers
Do some research if you have particular flowers in mind that you’re after, to know if they are in season or not. You’ll find that some flowers are imported, but buying fresh locally grown seasonal blooms is much better and highly recommend. For example, it’s not natural to find peonies in winter so don't bother trying unless you want to pay a huge premium for any that are available.
Go on a Saturday morning if you can, and don't have an urgent reason to go otherwise. The parking is free on Saturdays (vs $10 during the week days) and it’s a much more relaxed ambience. Note: there is a new parking situation as of early 2017, where the ground level carpark right at the back of the market is now all reserved until a particular time during the week days (as of April, it's 5.30am). So if you do go during the week, I would suggest going to check it out before an important event to see what the rules are in case they change again.
Bring some buckets, a small trolley or boxes so you can transport your flowers easily. If you don’t have any of these or forget one morning, you can either ask one of the sellers if they could give you a spare one, or check the caged recycling area outside on one of the corners near the parking.
Do a walk through when you first arrive to scope out what's available. Don't rush into things! I always recommend doing a quick walk through the entire floor before buying anything, in order to scope out what’s in stock and who’s got the best prices or colours of a particular variety.
Ask the flower growers plenty of questions. Like what the name of a particular flower is that’s caught your eye, how to care for it if you’re unsure, how long it’s in season for. You’ll learn a lot about the flowers this way and it’s also a great way to test their floral knowledge bright and early in the morning!
Bring small change with you. Most sellers prefer to deal only with cash, and a lot of the time don’t have a lot of change to break a $50 so come prepared.
Timing of arrival is important. For a real floral bargain, buy your flowers between 8-9am where prices will start dropping ridiculously, as growers try to part with as much stock as they can before they pack up for the day. Otherwise if you want the freshest and the most variety available, arrive at the market as early as possible.
Prepare your flowers once you're home. Remember to strip off the leaves off the bottom half of each stem, de-thorn the roses and recut all the stems at an angle before placing them in water.
I hope you guys have enjoyed this guide and found it useful!