Chelsea Flower MarketChelsea Wholesale Flower Market

Chelsea Market

This is one of the great places to buy, or just come to browse, flowers. It's in Chelsea Market and the flowers smell even better than the baked goods. They always have the most unusual blooms. On one visit in late autumn we were in their cool room and noticed a wonderful smell that pervaded the area. It was a bit sweet and a bit spicy and very fresh. We tracked it down to the little white flowers on long branches with prickly leaves. We had never smelled anything like it, but the plant was obviously a mahonia (Oregon grape) or ilex (holly). The flowers were not much to look at, but the scent was delicious.

We had to find out what the plant was. The folks at the market knew it came from the west coast, but not much more.

The Horticultural Society of New York

58th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue

So, we went to The Horticultural Society of New York which is located on 58th Street, not far from our hotel. This is both a convenient resource and a little retreat from the city. We were soon in their library, going over book after book with our hostess. She wasn't too sure of what the plant was, but their excellent library included a number of books on ilex and mahonia. We could rule out mahonia rather quickly, the flowers were in the wrong place. They were under the leaves, not at the tip of the branch.

Our research wasn't conclusive. We hadn't actually bought a specimen. It was probably one of the varieties of ilex aquifolium.

We often enjoy dropping in to the Horticultural Society. They have a little shop that sells seeds, plants and garden tools, and the main room is often full of folks working on some project or another. It is a great place to track the seasons.

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