When I go to the markets in London, I’m usually looking for food. From Broadway Market to Borough Market, Maltby Street Market to the Marylebone Farmers’ Market, I love browsing through the bright colors and fresh produce. But there’s one London market that doesn’t focus on food that still gives me the same feeling of excitement: the Columbia Road Flower Market.
Over in east London, the Columbia Road Flower Market is one of the city’s most colorful and lively markets. Every Sunday it welcomes visitors with fresh flowers, vines, plants, and all kinds of garden varietals.
From bright red roses to pink hydrangeas, purple pansies to spiky cacti, there is an amazing variety on offer. The narrow aisle between the two rows of stalls gets packed every weekend as the market’s vendors call out deals to encourage visitors to purchase their goods.
I’m here today to do just that, hoping to warm up my flat with pretty flowers as the weather cools down for autumn. I arrive early, knowing that the crowds will be thinner in the morning, and that the market closes at 2pm. I walk through the passage, taking in the colors and sounds as I try to decide whether to pick up bright yellow sunflowers or wild pink heather.
When I come to the end, I walk back behind the stalls to browse the row of shops on Columbia Road. They’re all full of stylish home goods, lovely antiques, pretty art, and—this being a flower market—gardening tools and wares. It’s all so beautifully presented I want to wrap it up and let it unfold in my flat.
Back out on Columbia Road, I walk down to Ezra Street, where there are market stalls selling everything from scarves to olives as the sound of live music drifts over from the buskers down the road. I walk past a pub with the mouth-watering scent of Sunday roast wafting from its doors, and eventually stop at Cafe Columbia for a smoked salmon bagel in the sunny back garden.
Eventually I plunge back into the flower market, which by this time has reached is noontime peak. It’s so crowded I can barely move, and I let the throng carry me by all the pretty roses and sunny daisies until I come upon the flowers I want: sunflowers. What better way to keep the sun shining in London?
On the way back to the tube at Liverpool Street, I can’t resist a walk through Brick Lane’s food markets. While they have a very colorful array of goods on offer, I’m still glad I spent my morning at the Columbia Road Flower Market. I may not be able to eat the flowers, but I love the market just the same.