Dennis was known as a true legend of New Covent Garden Market, having enjoyed a long-standing love affair with the Flower Market for more than 50 years. As co-owner of Dennis Edwards Flowers, and the previous owner of John Austin Flowers Co, Dennis was a familiar face and friend to many.
A true confidant, Dennis supported florists across London for decades, supplying them throughout their careers with top-quality flowers. Dennis’s respect for his customers was totally reciprocated by everyone who had the good fortune to meet him and his presence at New Covent Garden Flower Market will be sorely missed.
Dennis pictured with actress and former Member of Parliament Glenda Jackson, during a visit to New Covent Garden Flower Market in 1998.
As a third generation Covent Garden Market trader, Dennis started in the Flower Market as a porter back in 1966, aged 17. Dennis’s plan was to stay for one year and join the Fruit & Vegetable Market, where all his family worked, at 18. But he quickly fell in love with the way the Flower Market operated, the friendly banter and the competition with colleagues.
Over the next six decades Dennis would build an illustrious career, with highlights including sourcing Lily of the Valley for HRH the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding bouquet, flowers for the coffin at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, as well as 3,000 rose petals for the 9/11 remembrance service.
Dennis’s career at the Flower Market saw him take on many roles. Starting as a market porter he worked his way up to become a flower buyer. He also worked in a country order department (distributing flowers across the country via the train network).
It was when Dennis started working with the legendary and inspirational Charlie Gardener, credited as the first flower wholesaler to sell Dutch flowers in large volumes, that he got the bug to start his own company. Dennis opened John Austin and Co, successfully running it for more than 20 years.
Dennis quickly realised Dutch growers were having a huge impact on the British flower trade, catering to each wholesaler by growing exactly what the customer wanted. Their motto was ‘We flower the World’ and over the years Dennis and his businesses helped Dutch growers live up to their ambition. Dennis literally sold millions of flowers, with the majority sourced from Holland, over the course of his distinguished career.
Dennis Edwards (centre) with business partner Eddie Martin (left), celebrating winning the Wholesaler of the Year award in 2014.
In 2012 he opened Dennis Edwards Flowers at the Flower Market and although it was Dennis’s name was above the door, it was a partnership with Eddie Martin and purely a business decision to capitalise on his well-known name.
What’s more, Dennis was instrumental in ensuring the Flower Market’s move to its new interim home as part of the multi-million pound redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market. Through his deeds, Dennis played a big part in ensuring London’s streets will continue to be flowered by New Covent Garden Flower Market and carry on the traditions of the story he started back in 1966.
ITV London News aired a touching tribute about Dennis, capturing his life and career in the Flower Market with previously aired footage, as well as interviews with fellow traders, his customers and friends. You can watch the story here.
Dennis (far right), pictured in the former Flower Market site with colleagues and friends.
Dennis’s business partner Eddie, and Eddie’s son Sonny, will now carry on the iconic business, keeping alive Dennis’s memory for years to come.
We know Dennis will be remembered at New Covent Garden Flower Market as a true gentleman and legend in the floral industry. Covent Garden Market Authority have sent our deepest condolences to his family and will be keeping them, along with his friends and colleagues, in our thoughts at this difficult time.