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Covent Garden

The development of Covent Garden flower market in 1894 allowed flowers to be available for sale for the first time in England.

Covent garden market in London.

Photo: nick.garrod

Covent Garden Flower Market in London, today.

The gentry in Victorian England who had the money to grow flowers had a large staff to grow and display them. Fashionable, wealthy people did not work in gardens even though they enjoyed flowers as ornaments.

The development of Covent Garden flower market in 1894 allowed flowers to be available for sale for the first time. Demand increased as prosperity increased, and the Royal Horticultural Society held more and more flowers shows. As a result, trade in potted plants and cut flowers grew.

At first, the head gardeners of the great country houses were suppliers. Flowers and surplus vegetables from the head gardeners of estates were soon augmented and then replaced by those grown by agricultural workers.

Mechanization transformed the painstaking work of growing both edible and decorative plants. Hard work was suddenly out of fashion and the emphasis was on saving time and labor and chemicals and fertilizers were developed to replace loads of manure wheeled in barrows.

Covent Garden Floral Hill thrived as more and more flowers became available for sale to eager customers from all walks of life. It is interesting, however, that wild flowers were never sold in the Hall itself; they were sold by less established sellers such as Eliza Doolittle. They were referred to as “flower girls” and walked the streets nearby, selling flowers.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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