Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Los Angeles Flower District

In the middle of the worst part of downtown LA there is an overwhelmingly magical block. Two giant warehouses filled with thousands of freshly cut, exquisite flowers...at wholesale prices. It smells like heaven, looks like a giant series of Monet paintings, and reminds one that no matter how broken this city, this country seems, basic commerce is still alive and thriving in the most unlikely places.

Just the fact that there is a "Flower District" warms my heart. In 1913, Japanese growers started the Southern California Flower Market. Then came the Los Angeles Flower Market across the street, and the numerous small shops that sprang around them. It is where many florists, clever brides, hotels, rich ass Beverly Hills people and others get their flowers. Need an orchid? Well, baby, not only are there several orchid stalls in the two markets, there is also an entire orchid store where you can pick up a seedling for only $8.00.

Today the area is an absolute feast for the senses. In one vendor stall two ladies were cutting and arranging Christmas wreaths, in another a restaurant owner was picking hundreds of flowers that were being loaded into a cart. Another woman transported garlands down the street on a little tractor. And then there are the flowers- lovely, mostly very high quality (you will not find these in your local supermarket) specimens of every color and size imaginable. A bouquet of blue hydrangea, one of my favorites, could be found for as little as $7.00, a flirty and fun tropical bouquet was only $5.00 and there were hundreds of bouquet quality roses for all you brides- to- be.

This is the best of LA. Places like this and my beloved farmers' markets exemplify what is unique and extraordinary about California. Our rich cultural diversity, agricultural superiority and entrepreneurial spirit all collide in the markets. There is a feeling of camaraderie, and the interactions are pleasant and equal-not filled with the bitterness and suspicion so frequently felt in city life.

Basically, nature rocks, right? And who knows- maybe the flower trade is controlled by the mob, maybe people are murdered in their beds for the best cuttings of gardenias. But there is nothing more beautiful and pure than a single flower, and no matter what Dr. Phil says, sometimes it is best to take beauty at face value.

Ease: C
Content: A
Subjective Coolness: A
Overall: A-

Directions: CONFUSING. Located on the 700 block of South Wall Street. From Hollywood take 101-S to the 110-S. Take exit 23A-C and keep left, following signs for 6th St/Wilshire Blvd. Merge onto 6th Street. Turn right onto Wall Street.
Hours: Trade hours start at 2:00am, but for we mere mortals the hours are: Mon, Wed, Fri:8am-12pm; Tues, Thurs, Sat: 6am-12pm
Price: Website says $2:00, but I just walked in for free, because I am a rebel. There are decks all around for as low as $3.00. I just parked in hour parking on a side street.

1 comment:

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