The Flower District in New York is located in the Chelsea neighborhood on Sixth Avenue and 28th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. If I lived in the area, I'd be there every week but since it's a bit out of the way I only go when I want something special. There is a great article from The New York Times about the gritty reality behind the business of flowers.
The early bird gets the worm in the Flower District or in this case the yellow Ranunculus which I missed out on because I got there after 9:00am. Did I mention that I'm not a morning person? Anyway, there are quite a few business in the district to find what you are looking for from orchids and exotic blooms to full trees and branches or just cut flowers. You name it, they probably have it. Unless you get there late, in which case, you are of luck until the next morning. A few tips to remember. Cash is king. Some stores have a minimum credit card purchase amount or only take business credit cards so stop by the ATM first. Also, leave the Louboutins at home. Of course, I was wearing inappropriate shoes, so learn from my mistake. The Flower District is wet and dirty. You've been warned.
The Flower Market Association web site has a list of businesses but one of my favorites is Foliage Paradise that sells plants like the Hyacinth above that I bought from them for $7 (the pot was mine). They are always so nice and helpful. You can bring in your own pot or buy one of theirs and they will repot your plant and will also add moss for a professional touch. They also deliver which is great at the holidays if you want to send an Orchid or Amaryllis to your friends or clients.
The other great place I visited was US Evergreens Inc. on Sixth Avenue. This is the place to go for seasonal branches like the Forsythia above that they were nice enough to cut down for me. Looks much better than the Quince I bought at the corner market! The shop was packed with branches like the Cherry Blossoms that were taller than the ceilings in my apartment! They also carry trees and greenery during the holidays.
Someone who gets up really early to get to the Flower District at 5:00am every Monday morning is Charles Masson, the owner of the amazing French restaurant, La Grenouille, which is famous for it's flowers. When I first moved to New York, I used to walk by La Grenouille on my way to work and I loved peaking in the front window to see Charles arranging the blooms. He said it takes over six hours for him to arrange them all!
Martha Stewart recently paid a visit to La Grenouille to see Charles at work and to dine on their amazing French cuisine. You can read more about it on her blog. There is also a book about the famous flowers, The Flowers of La Grenouille, which is out of print but can still be found for sale online. I hope a new edition is in the works!
Another great book I just received to preview is Flower Sense: The Art of Decorating by Tricia Guild published by Rizzoli. It's filled with beautiful photos of every flower imaginable and would make a perfect gift for any flower lover or yourself. I once had an older woman tell me it was bad luck to buy myself flowers to which I say poppycock! I'm certainly not going to wait around for some dumb boy to buy me flowers, although if they were smart, they would realize that a well timed bouquet of pink peonies would be more well received than all the diamonds in the world! And they can be easily found in the Flower District!