I'm really all about the flowers lately.
Recently I did the decorations for a friend's 40th birthday party. She wanted a black, red and white theme - not my favourite colour combination, it has to be said - and to break up the football jersey effect, I made pinwheels galore from intricately patterned black and white paper.
The day before the party I knew I needed a bigger hit of red. I phoned a friend.
"Do you want to come to the flower market with me tomorrow morning?" I asked.
"Sounds lovely," she responded. "What time do you want to head over there?"
"5 am," I replied.
"You're on your own, crazy lady," she said firmly.
So, 5 am saw me looking blearily across the bush out the front of our house, trying to muster up the enthusiasm to turn the key in the ignition. Watching the sun rise has just never been enough motivation for me to love an early start. This seems too big a sacrifice for a mere friend, I thought grumpily. This sort of commitment is more at a family or oldest school friend level.
But once I finally got on the road, it wasn't just the sun that was looking up. I breezed along deserted roads (although there was fairly steady taxi traffic coming from the city!), enjoying the adventure. Once at Flemington, I was amazed at how quickly I found a park, only realising much, much later that I had actually parked down by the wholesale fruiterers, about 2 kilometres from the flower market entrance. You want to keep on driving straight past the grocers, unless you want to buy a dozen watermelon, in which case an early park means you're in prime position.
Arriving at the Sydney Flower Market at 10 minutes past six, the day was practically done. A few vendors were already closing up, but there was still fields of flowers spread across the vast hall. Sunflowers, lisianthus, hyacinth, spider flower, snap dragons and stock. Globe alliums, orchids, anemone, carnations and lilac. The fragrance in the air positively rumbled.
I quickly honed in on 'today's roses' - the roses that would be binned if they weren't sold that day. At $10 for 3 bunches I knew they wouldn't last long, but they only needed to look good for the party that night and look good they did. I bargained a little and ended up with over 100 red roses for about $30. Amazing!
I doubt I'd get up at the crack of dawn on any given Saturday just to purchase flowers for home, but to buy en masse for a celebration, you'd be mad not to. The buzz, the variety, the freshness (or not!) and most of all the price. Definitely worth the early start.
Have you been to the flower markets?