In Pursuit of the Perfect Petal
New York’s historic flower district may be a shadow of its former self, but the die-hards still show up every morning before sunrise.
Vermilion pigments light up the wonted grey sidewalk and crimson petals accent the still-dark sky as I enter this inner-city hideout. Flowers and plants are packed tightly in plastic containers all around me, hanging from windowpanes and filling storefronts. And then the smells—the overwhelming punch of gum and sweet and incense leaving a candy taste that sits like a bird on the tip of my tongue. Dawn is just breaking as I enter this parish, one that New Yorkers often miss in their haste of life.
A kick downtown from Madison Square Garden and a skip west of Koreatown lies the Chelsea Flower Market—less of a traditional market and more a throng of about a dozen flower shops and wholesalers, which add to the city’s marinade of felicity every morning around dawn.
The market’s origin was based on its locality, a well-worn stretch of West 28th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Positioned by enthusiastic wholesalers in the 1890s to be near the then-fashionable sho…
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