California was once full of wheat and grain crops. They're now making a small but might comeback.
Imagine it is 3 a.m. in downtown Los Angeles. Just steps away from Skid Row, the parking is full, cars are flying in and out, people are trading. Amid a silent city, something grows. The ancient (95 years old) Original Los Angeles Flower Market comes to life when the rest of the city is sleeping. At 55,000 square feet, the flower market is the largest in the country. You'll find orchids, air plants, succulents, money trees, topiaries, gardenias and roses. Lots and lots of roses.
We visited the Flower Market and surrounding district to get the lowdown on the smelly truth.
Orchids: At the Orchid Affair you find not just living orchids but exquisite silk paper orchids, fairies and a couple of cats guarding the merchandise. The only vendor to grow their own orchids, at the farm located in Montclair, the Orchid Depot is on the higher end of price, but in exchange you get American-grown rare species that you can brag to your friends about.
Roses: Vincent at Wall Street Floral is right at the main entrance to the mall, displaying nice fresh buds. Two dozen roses can cost you anywhere from $5.75 to $18, depending on color and size, but most are in the $7.75 range.
Dried flowers and specialty: Villa Flowers, in the Southern California Flower Market, sells dried wreaths and wall art in addition to roses and baby's breath.
Plants: We couldn't choose between Rudy's Plants and HM Wholesale Plants. Both have healthy plants for a fraction of the cost at Home Depot. Both are in the Southern California Flower Market. Plus both have air plants, which are having a moment.
Something different: ZCallas has seasonal flowers, moss and wood, and honey shipped in from Oregon.
Arrangements: Go outside the OLAFM and the SCFM and you will find dozens of shops, spreading out in all directions, six blocks from San Pedro Street west to Maple Street and Seventh Street south to Ninth Street. These little businesses cater to any flower-arrangement needs: funerals, victory wreaths, weddings. Inside the California Flower Mall, we found one of our favorite arrangers at El Poblano Flowers.
Parking: Park in the structure off of San Julian for $4 for the day.
Restrooms: The only restrooms are inside the Original Los Angeles Flower market, and they are clean and free.
All photos by Star Foreman
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