The Scents of Downtown LA Flower District by Guest Blogger Allie

Hello, LA insiders!  I’m Allie, and I am your guest tour guide/blogger for the day.  Any city has it’s highlights and downsides. Los Angeles is no exception a spectacular world class art and cultural center. Today’s downtown LA destination is the Flower District. Walk down Wall Street and let your nose lead the way! Los Angeles’s Flower District is an underappreciated gem that could use a little more promotion, so here it goes.

 The Flower DistrictThe name Flower District conjures up images of flowering tulip fields, windmills and people who wear funny wooden shoes. Or even where hippie flower children left from the sixties sell daisies for ten cents a piece.  Throw those expectations away. According to its website,the Flower District is the nation’s largest flower wholesale market. As Sheryl Crow once sang, “This ain’t no disco. It ain’t no country club either. This is LA!” This is not some well maintained street with marble sided buildings where peddlers come to sell their roses on small carts to passing stock brokers in power suits. This a road in need of repair with small shops and even shops within shops, where hard-working flower arrangers turn flowers from around the world into reasonably priced works of art. Going there just to take in the atmosphere would be an unforgettable experience. You can even take home a white orchid for just $5 and of course it’s wholesale – so the more you buy the more you save.  You could even grab a few for a friend!

I arrived by bus (which by the way, is only a few dollars), but if you must drive, parking in the area is somewhat pricey so I would suggest driving around to find the cheaper lots (or doing your own research) and then walking a few blocks over to take in the sights of the Flower District.  The first thing you will notice is the scent of the area. I had to keep reminding myself I was not in a freshly rained upon tropical rain forest but in fact a Los Angeles street. Of course, a street full of pollen is not kind to those of us with allergies. But after sneezing a bit and taking some medicine I was ready to take in the sights of the flower markets. I arrived at about 9 am in the morning.

The flower market is located on the seven hundred block of Wall Street, but spills off into the side streets as well. There are larger warehouses that rent out space to merchants and also merchants with smaller shops on the street that sell flowers. One vendor had roses of many shades available with funny sounding names for the hues like Razzmatazz. Another vendor sold miniature landscapes in  a box for display on a table top complete with Bonsai, orchids, waterfall fountain, moss and tiny houses. The streets were full of marigolds in anticipation of Dia de los Muertos. I was surprised to see many large muscular six foot tall guys in tank tops with their entire arms covered in tattoos delicately making flower arrangements with the most sincere care, carefully pruning and placing petals to complete a carefully coordinated arrangement.  It’s like waching the musical “West Side Story,” and when the opposing gangs finally meet, pumped and ready to fight, they break into song and dance.

The Flower District
Each vendor has a specialty. One will sell tropical flowers. Some will sell ferns, and others sell exclusively daisies in every single color of the rainbow. The prices for these flowers are by far the best I have seen. How about a dozen roses for $8?! WOW! The merchants are extremely friendly and ready to build you a custom bouquet at the wave of a hand. I really don’t know much about floral design other than you have to stuff the flowers in a vase with H2O to keep them alive, but it was interesting observing the current trends in floristry. Currently, it is really popular to have a sanded branch painted matte black in a box filled with pretty polis hed rocks or glass. Florists then decorated these little miniature trees with ornaments, flowers, and ribbons, and it was very classy. I wanted to pick up a small tree box combo but decided it would be too hard to fit in my backpack.

It is free to view most of these stands, but one warehouse I encountered charged a $2 admission fee. Bathrooms in LA are usually difficult to find, and the Flower District is no exception. I ducked into a side door of a fern store located in the warehouse and pretended to gaze intently at ferns while I headed in the direction of the restrooms in the middle only to be foiled by a door lock mechanism that charged 25 cents. However, I saved $1.75 by being faux-fern shopper.
The Flower District is a great place to use all your senses to take in Downtown Los Angeles. Come early to get the best deals on unique and beautiful floral treasures! Hope to see you all at Downtown Los Angeles ArtWalk tomorrow!
Until next time,
Allie
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