No warmth, no cheerfulness…no fruits, no flowers, no leaves... November?
Not at New Covent Garden! We’ve got all the fun and fireworks of bonfire night.
Warning! Your head might spin. It’s not some ghoulish re-enactment of The Exorcist; it’s just that you’ll see scabious next to bloom chrysanthemums alongside amaryllis and scented narcissi. What month is it again?
A weird month, where summer’s still here, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather; autumn’s in full flow; Christmas products are trickling in – Evergreen Plants had its first poinsettias in October (I know! But mince pies are already in the supermarkets); and spring’s arriving from Cornwall and the Scillies.
So on Pratleys, you’ll find British-grown Soleil d’Or, violets, and anemones.
They’ve been around for three or four weeks now, thanks to the warmth, and should rock on through to New Year.
Evergreen Plants have more seasonal items; there’s staple autumn fare - cyclamen, heathers, solanum and cheeky-faced pansies
plus lovely stephanotis if you don’t want to face the cold just yet.
There’s lots of oranges and reds around to warm us up – rosehips,
chillies, ilex, leucospermum, cotoneaster berries, and of course, hypericum (this selection from DG Flowers).
SR Allen’s stand is a ridiculous temptation of product – drumstick scabious, gladioli, clematis, cardoon, phlox, mini cabbage,
chilli, senecio… "There was even more at 1am!" says my friend in the flat cap. It’s beautifully colour-blocked as well, to help you make a quick choice.
Eric at John Austin reminds me that while we love Halloween’s kitsch spookiness, on the continent they take it seriously as a time to remember the dead.
All Saints’ Day affects prices, as demand rockets for cemetery flowers. Things should return to normal soon. Like several other stands, Austin have amaryllis on offer – these are being opened for a customer’s contract later in the week. Just another service you can get from the wholesalers at NCGM.
It wouldn’t be a florist blog without new rose varieties – and there’s almost too much choice this month. Where to start?
Well, DG Flowers has this beauty, "Wimbledon Green", from Holland – a fresh bright Granny Smith. Yum.
On Bloomfield, gorgeous Ecuadorian beauties including the stonking pink and sage "Something Different". (Clearly a long, difficult day in the naming department.)
As my man on Bloomfield says, "Ecuadorian roses might be more expensive but you get what you pay for. They come in tighter, and last much longer." And look at the size of the heads! Also here, a pretty mauve spray rose, "Lilac Sensation"; strong purple with no hint of wishy-washy.
On Alagar’s stand three more great roses. First, the lovely shaded "Two Faced" (again, what’s with these terrible names?); almost a paler sister to "Amalia". Then this hugely distinctive one with its bizarre fasciated centre. Comes in two flavours, red and yellow – "Ivanhoe" and "Cabana".
Last but (oh my!) by no means least, is novelty corner. If you fondly remember those little fuzzy toys Sylvanian Family Animals, you’ll love these flocked roses.
They are dressed for every winter party in a coat of sugary sparkly pastel fluff. There’s also a purple-edged form, dipped in fizzy mauve dye.
To tell you the truth, if you like novelty, there’s lots to float your boat; from vibrantly dyed strelizia and grevillea;
psychedelic "Picasso" eucalyptus at Porters;
to vermilion-painted echeveria at Quality Plants.
However, I’m with my man Dave on GB Foliage, who advocates going "au naturel". Don’t panic! He’s not about to start a nudist colony in SW8. He just prefers his leaves, twigs and flowers as nature intended, with no artificial colouring or additives. And when he’s expecting a delivery of giant branching red dogwoods "as big as stags' horns", who can blame him?