November 28, 2022

“I visited the Columbia Road Flower Market for the first time and felt like I was normal again” – Hayley Clarke

Columbia Road Flower Market is a rite of passage for Londoners, whether you grew up in the capital or have become an Honorary Londoner like me.

Well in my sixth year of living here it shouldn’t have taken me that long to visit. But like so much in our sprawling capital, you don’t go often until it’s on your doorstep.

As I can now see the market from my new apartment window, it was finally time to visit it and see what it was all about.

I had been to independent shops across the street since moving in, delighted to buy from a little cheese factory where they really care what they sell, and have my reusable wine refilled at Borough Wines, for a price of d as a godsend while being environmentally conscious.

Since non-essential stores were allowed to reopen on April 12, I’ve also taken advantage of “In Bloom” and its sister store “In Habit” – havens for those looking for quirky housewares, multi-colored candlesticks and a plethora of pot plants.

So I was intrigued and a little worried about going to the market, knowing that what I would find would be miles away from the quiet cobblestone street that I had come to know since moving here.

The market reopened on Sunday April 18, but with the queue spanning hundreds and hundreds of people, I was quickly back home.

This time, I decided to join her, hoping that it will progress quickly.



Don’t be too alarmed at the size of the queue

I joined the queue around 1:30 p.m., thinking she would be dead by then as it closes at 2 p.m.

I was wrong. It was still absolutely huge, but I was hoping it would go quickly.

About ten minutes later, I was in it.

Immediately two things were clear.

First, there was no social distancing, despite a one-way system and restrictions on how many people could be in the market at one time. Two, I was going to like it here.



In less than ten minutes, I was in

The prices are very good. Three succulents for £ 12? Yes please.

As I walked down the famous road, enjoying the houseplants, flowers and bedding plants, I wish I had a garden and my boyfriend hadn’t already filled all the shelves and chimneys with plants.

There is so much to choose from and at such reasonable prices. The pampas, which sells online for £ 10 a stem, was on sale here at three stems for £ 10.

I decided to take this trip as a bit of a recreation, taking everything into account, before coming back next week with the knowledge to do some good business.



If you are looking for beautiful plants and flowers at reasonable prices, you have come to the right place.

If you are looking for a good deal, I think being late like I did is the way to go. Standing in front of a flower stall at 1.30 p.m. I saw someone buying a bouquet of beautiful pink roses for £ 10.

In less than two minutes the price had been reduced, first to two for £ 15, then to five dollars per bouquet.

You can easily make a lovely gift bouquet, mixing three different types of flowers and foliage for £ 15 – much cheaper than what is offered on a site like Bloom & Wild online, where you would get the same sort of thing for around £ 40.

Plus, it’s wrapped in the branded brown paper – eco-friendly and bold to match.



There were also lots of cute dogs

As an Essex-born woman whose family grew up in the East End, hearing the calls from market vendors “My grandmother grew them in her housing estate in Rainham” made me feel right at home.

There were also a lot of dogs to see, taking in the atmosphere, adding to the fun of the day.

Plus, with pastries and coffees as good as Pavilions, it’s the perfect and quintessential day out in East London.



Some wore masks, but most did not from what I saw

I would have liked to have seen more people wearing masks indoors, or fewer people admitted at a time – but at least there was the benefit of the fresh air.

Obviously my aforementioned plant-obsessed boyfriend couldn’t leave empty-handed, and we got this guy for our new ‘cactus shelf’ for just £ 8. It was originally on sale for £ 15 but was slightly damaged so the price has been nicely halved.



Our market in its new home, pictured on the left

Warts and everything, we think it’s beautiful.

To get to the market, head to Hoxton or Shoreditch High Street station, Bethnal Green tube or take the 26, 48 or 55 bus.

The Columbia Road Flower Market takes place every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.