Gardens of Urban Delights

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The dreary weather and mood over the last few weeks has me longing for some color in my life. Before our current stay-at-home orders were issued, I had to go to Jamali (more later) in the Flower District, or should I say the Flower Block, to pick up some new containers for my office plants. I’m glad that I did.

My plants welcomed their new homes; and have thrived. They do wonders for reducing my stress and provide the beauty and solace we all need right now.

Floriculture as an industry began in the late 19th century in the United Kingdom, where flowers were grown on a large scale on the vast estates. Pictured here are Easter flower vendors in Union Square Park in the early 1900s. Incidentally, you can still purchase flowers from Union Square Greenmarket over 100 years later. Library of Congress digital collection.

The Flower District used to stretch up Sixth Avenue for blocks, with the Avenue’s sidewalks filled with plants, trees, and myriad varieties of garden flora. The side streets were full of plant and flower dealers.

Not so today. The old rent-payers on Sixth Avenue were torn down to make way for huge hotels and “luxury” apartments, and the stores moved onto the side streets. Now the stores and wholesalers are located mostly on 28th Street. However the small old buildings they inhabit are giving way to mid-level tourist hotels. It’s a New York mixture, for sure.

Happily the plants and flowers are still there, and the vendors still look forward to helping you with all your floral needs. It’s a great time to inject some life and color into your home or add some newness to your gardens, terraces or even window boxes.

These businesses can help you do that, and in turn you can help them stay in business. After all, flowers and plants need homes, too.

Spring Flowers Full of Bees
Spring Flowers full of bees.

When I visited the Flower District a couple months ago, the street and Avenue were still full of flowers, plants and trees. And there were hundreds of bees I never expected to see feeding off all the colorful flowers. (Where do they go in the winter?) Many of the companies have their own greenhouses outside of New York where they grow almost everything in their stores.

I used to have an apartment with a good-sized terrace filled with lavender and rose trees, figs and peaches. All grown in containers. Spring was a great time to re-imagine what I had planted. I am now contemplating what sort of other plants I might be able to grow in my apartment.

All the shops have websites, and because they have the plants they need to take care of them even as the city slows to a halt. All of them can deliver to you. Why not brighten up your day by brightening up your home? Is a friend or loved one celebrating a birthday or anniversary? What do you want to see in your perfect garden or tablescape? Flowers have a language all their own, so let them speak to you and let your imagination run wild.

Spring Plants Outside Foliage Garden.
Spring plants outside Foliage Garden.

Foliage Garden has been in business since 1981. They have their own greenhouses, and like all these shops a good portion of the merchandise is seasonal. The tulips and hyacinths of March and April will be replaced by iris and peonies. There is always something to look forward to.

Hanging Orchids Inside the Store.
Hanging Orchids inside the store.

The front of the store is filled with hanging orchids and plants. Green plants mingle with flowers. The smell inside the store is warm and earthy. Foliage Garden does deliveries in the tri-state area, and last time I was there I saw deliveries going to several prominent decorators.

Tropical Plants Line the Back of the Store.
Tropical Plants line the back of the store.

Palms, yuccas and other tropical plants offer a green refuge. They sell to retail floral stores, event planners, restaurants, hotels, corporate accounts and individuals. As with any of these vendors, an individual will probably pay a bit more than the wholesale clients, but the prices will be better than what a local florist would charge.

Orchids and Smaller Plants.
Orchids and smaller plants.

Foliage Garden has a selection of orchids, and will re-pot your purchases into clay pots. If there is something you are looking for and it’s not here now, in most cases it can be ordered. These stores are always helpful and happy to work with you.

Topiaries, Ferns and Other Small Plants.
Topiaries, ferns and other small plants.

Case in point. They had a few topiaries in stock, along with some ferns. Do you want a rosemary or an ivy topiary? Two balls or three? They can order it. Larger ferns than the ones here? No problem.

Evergreens and Small Plants.
Evergreens and Small Plants.

Small evergreens are located outside along with grass flats and miniature orange trees. Happily they almost cover the newly built hotel across the street. I suggest you look at the website and once you know what you want give them a call or send an email to discuss what else they might have that isn’t on the site.

Foliage Garden, 120 West 28th Street, 212 989-3089,

The Sidewalk Narrows.
The sidewalk narrows.

Fragrance Plants & Flowers is on the other side of the street where their plants and trees line the streets. They have pansies, jonquils and rosemary in their spring mix. They do indoor and outdoor plant and tree landscaping as well as plant rentals for personal and corporate events, photo shoots, and other occasions (remember those?). Something to remember when  things are back to normal.

Air Plants and Bonsai.
Air plants and Bonsai.

They also do arrangements of plants. The plants in the foreground are air plants. They grow in trees, in between rocks, in deserts, in the rain forest, on rocky surfaces, and even on cacti. They are native to the Western Hemisphere. They don’t have roots as such, and can be arranged in many different bowls and planters. They need to be misted or have small amounts if water in their container. Foliage Plants also has bonsai, and can make a personal treescape for you.

Orchids, House Plants, ans Small Succulents.
Orchids, house plants, and small succulents.

Orchids can be found here, along with a lot of succulents, one of the Millennial’s favorite types of plants. They are drought-resistant and thus do not require a lot of watering. You can buy them separately, or Fragrance Plants can make arrangements in bowls or planters in different sizes.

Succulents, Bromeliads and Other Plants.
Succulents, bromeliads and other plants.

Here are some more succulents as well as some bromeliads. And many old fashioned snake plants.

Bamboos, Evergreens, and Magnolias Outside.
Bamboos, evergreens, and other plants outside.

The staff here is happy to work with you to create many different products. Their landscaping services are best done in person or by phone. You can use the website as a starting point, as there is more available than is seen on the site. Contact them by phone or email to personalize your order.

Fragrance Plants and Flowers, 135 West 28 Street, 212 564-2103,

A Great Place to Buy Seeds for Your Garden.
A great place to buy seeds for your garden.

Around the corner is International Garden. They have been in business for over 20 years, and offer cut flowers as well as plants, custom floral design, gardening and maintenance.  They are happy to do free consultations. They also have seeds for sale if you are looking to start from scratch.

Gladiolus Among the Plants.
Gladiolus among the plants.

They do weddings and events, work with designers, corporate accounts and individuals. They sell pots and planters, and will fill them with well designed plantings.

Cases of Flowers.
Cases of flowers.

Plenty of flowers are on hand for the floral arrangements. They do not sell from their website so you will need to speak to them to see what they have. Email is best, and ask to speak to them to see what they can do, as the cut flowers vary from day to day. Just like every store in this column, everything is seasonal. Come Thanksgiving or Christmas the stores are full of Christmas-themed arrangements and decor.

Birds of Paradise and Other Cut Flowers.
Birds of Paradise and other cut flowers.

The staff was working on many different arrangements when I was there. No two were alike. They deliver in Manhattan, and in the outer boroughs.

Bamboo, Plants, and Plant Care in the Shop.
Bamboo, plants, and plant care in the shop.

They can create large arrangements or small ones.  They specialize in plant maintenance.  Outdoor plants can be pampered so they look their best for seasonal changes and keep looking their best in all kinds of weather. Indoor ones, too.

Cut Flowers to Chose From.
Cut flowers to chose from.

Put your imagination to work, and visualize bouquets that will make you and the family happy. International Garden has the resources and a huge selection of flowers to provide you with flowers and plants to brighten your day.

International Garden, 807 Sixth Avenue, 212 929-9418,

Orange Trees and Spring Flowers.
Orange trees and spring flowers.

Holiday Flower and Plant is located next to one of the new hotels. It is quite a visual contrast. You will find a selection of orchids, topiaries, dried flowers and tons of plants. I love the large orange trees on display here.

Potted Pre-Grown Ivy
You can buy potted pre-grown ivy.

I wish I had known I could buy trained potted ivy when I had my garden!  Holiday also does plant rentals, including the ivy. Maybe to rent to buy? You can call them to discuss what you need.

A Wall of Orchids and Bromeliads.
A wall of orchids and bromeliads.

There is a large selection of orchids, including blue ones, and other colorful plants. The sell containers and will re-pot the plants you buy or make arrangements of plants.

Decorative Bonsai Plants.
Decorative bonsai plants.

You can find some very interesting arrangements on the website. Plants are inventively placed in glass vases with colored stone and moss for a more modern look. Topiaries and bonsai are available here, too. They are also happy to order special sizes and varieties of plants depending on availability. And will work with you. Take a look at the website, and work with them by phone and email. They will help with do any planning that you might need.

Tulips and Topiaries Across the Street From a New Hotel.
Tulips and topiaries across the street from a new hotel.

Even under scaffolding the plants and flowers ooze springtime. This is a large store, with a terrific selection of different kind of trees and tree-like topiaries.

Holiday Flowers and Plants, 118 West 28 Street, 212 675-4300,

Silk Roses Cherry Blossoms and Peony's
Silk roses, cherry blossoms and peonies.

If watering plants and throwing spent floral bouquets away isn’t your thing, then you need to see the silk flowers from CFD or the Center for Floral Design. It’s been around for over 20 years, and they work with designers in all fields. That includes interior and commercial designers, displays for stores and restaurants, and theater and film set designers. Everything is made by hand. This is the only vendor not currently open as they are not selling real plants, but beautiful imitations that can last for years.

Forsythia, Wisteria, and Other Early Spring Plants.
Forsythia, wisteria, and other early spring plants.

They have plants for all seasons, and lots of orchids, but spring flowers are now on display in the front of the store.

Hydrangeas, Dogwood and Magnolia.
Hydrangeas, dogwood and magnolia.

There are other faux flower stores on 28th Street, but CFD has the biggest selection and best quality. Fib if you must and pretend you are a designer. Wait, aren’t you the designer of your own life? Business is business. Browse their catalog online, and make your wish list before you go, just like a pro.

Autumn Leaves Above a Large Variety of Succulents.
Autumn leaves above a large variety of succulents.

There are some out of season items here. But they also have an amazing selection of succulents that you will never need to water. They can make an arrangement for you, or you can DIY.  Their arrangements can be done in unusual containers as the plants don’t need water, just a little dusting.

Trees, Boxwood, Tropical Plants and Flowers.
Trees, boxwood, tropical plants and flowers.

They have a big selection of larger items at the back of store. The showroom displays seasonal flowers and they do change with the season. The do not sell on their website, but when things return to normal go and buy some perennial beautiful blooms!

CFD, 145 West 28 Street, 212 279-5044,

Colored Mini Cactus Arrangements Amid Bigger Plants.
Colored mini cactus arrangements amid larger plants.

Foliage Paradise is a paradise. Urban landscaping and terrace plantings are a specialty. They will design things for the home or the office or home office. They specialize in indoor and outdoor plants and trees. They also do arrangements like the small cactus and succulent ones above, and will custom make arrangements, too.

Orchids Large and Small.
Orchids large and small.

They have a wide selection of orchids and bromeliads. You can have them put into decorative planters that they sell. And if you already have some planters at home, you can just order the plants.

Hanging Plants and Cactus.
Hanging plants and cactus.

There is a nice selection of large cactus large and small. Pencil or column cactus, jade trees and agave. Some of them are on the website, but the store has a bigger selection. When you reach out by phone and email, just ask what else is in stock.

A Potting Facility at the Back of the Shop.
A potting facility at the back of the shop.

The team works here to take the basic plants and fashion them into something special. Getting their hands dirty is part of the job.

Jasmine and Spring Blooms.
Jasmine and spring blooms.

They are happy to discuss your planting requests. Fill out a form on the website or call the store to find out what’s in stock.

Foliage Paradise, 113-115 West 28 Street, 212 675-9696,

Faux Boxwood Amid Candles, Candle Holders and Lanterns.
Faux boxwood amid candles, candle holders and lanterns.

Jamali is one of my favorite places in the city. It is a store and a showroom and has been here since 1997. Florists small and large, party planners, decorators and individuals all shop here. Wonder where the little votive holders and candles and LED votive lights at all the benefits and restaurants come from? Most likely from here. Since we are all dining at home, why not dress up your dining table and try some meals by candlelight. You can pretend you are somewhere fabulous. Lanterns of all sizes, faux boxwood, decorative planting stones, soil and decorative moss are all to be found here, too.

Large Urns with Easter Bunnies.
Large urns with Easter bunnies.

There are more urns for plants than you will ever need. The prices are great. And the stock changes both seasonally and as tastes change.

Aisle After Aisle of Planters.
Aisle after aisle of planters.

There are several aisles on the ground floor filled with planters and cachepots. Terracotta, glazed ceramics, metal, plastic and mercury glass. Stone and wood, too. Everything in the store is sourced from around the world, with fair trade and handcrafted items featured.

Decorative Feathers Amid Vases and Urns.
Decorative feathers amid vases and urns.

Here are a few of the glass and metal containers available. They have pretty much everything you might need for any project you can think of.

Crystals For Your Arrangements.
Crystals for your arrangements.

They have crystals, stones, sea shells, a huge variety of faux fruit and succulents, raffia and rattan items. Sea Glass and colored sand. Need plant food, soil or moss? Floral supplies include bases and foam, scissors and ribbons. It is an urban bazaar. The website is extensive, and they have end of season sales all the time. Shop on the web now, but do make sure to check this store out as soon as it reopens.

Faux Plants Upstairs.
Faux plants are upstairs.

The second floor is full of faux flowers and plants.  The quality is not on par with CFD, but they are available now and there is a huge choice at good prices. Their seasonal offerings are amazing. Do you need some odd findings for Halloween costumes and masks? This is the place. At Thanksgiving and Christmas you will find an entire floor of decorations themed to the holiday. There is always something to discover at Jamali. You can spend hours browsing the site. The hardest part will be making up your mind.

 Jamali Floral and Garden, 149 West 28 Street, 212 244-4025,

All Weather Planters.
All-weather planters.

Planter Resource is exactly what it sounds like. They carry a complete line of light weight planters in a range of designs from traditional to extremely sleek. The containers are mostly made of fiberglass, and work weight-wise on New York rooftops. They also carry cedar, durastone, and fiberstone planters.

Planters of All Sizes.
Planters of all sizes.

They have been in business since 1994, and have a 60,000 foot warehouse just outside the city. Under normal circumstances, delivery is next-day. They are still delivering, but prefer not to deliver super heavy or large planters for now.

Large Urns with Easter Bunnies.
Large metal urns and glass vases.

They also carry many containers for events and weddings, corporate office and indoor planters. The website has a lot of product on it. You need to request a quote as they deal with designers and wholesalers as well as individuals. The store is currently not open, but browse on their site and pick new planters and contact them by email or by phone.

Planter Resource, 150 West 28 Street, 212-206-7687 or 631-451-1254,   

Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.

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