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By greensofhighgate, Mar 24 2017 01:09PM

The florist Vs the supermarket.

I know, I know!... You have heard the arguments before…. ‘Florist flowers last longer’, ‘Florist flowers are better cared for’, ‘Florists offer flexibility, custom arrangements and gift wrapping options’ AND ‘Supermarket flowers are easy – pre-packed, ready to go, convenient and above all cheap!!!’

We are frequently asked why our flowers cost much more than the ones found in the supermarket. A rose is a rose, a flower is a flower, right?? Well no actually!

There is a general misconception across consumers that we sell the same flowers as the supermarkets. A myth that supermarkets are able to charge a fraction of the florists price due to their ability to buy in bulk. Which naturally leads to the argument that why should you pay more, to support small businesses?

The supermarkets do buy in bulk, yes. And that will be reflected slightly in the price. However, this is not the reason for the sometimes huge gap in cost. The surprising truth is that we do not sell the same flowers as the supermarkets, not even close!

The BBC’s documentary ‘The World’s Biggest Flower Market’ is a great reference for this debate. It explores the Kenyan Rose’s journey from field to shop. Depending on whether the roses are being sent to florist or supermarket, determines the supplier, the field they grow & the journey the rose will take. Their destination will determine how the flowers are grown, cut, cared for and delivered.

The programme shows the journey of the Tambuzi Rose. The producers of the finest garden scented roses that money can buy. They are grown within a 25 hectare farm, each flower carefully selected on merit for scent, quality & appearance. The flowers are already opening when they are cut and are then slowly cooled over a 24 hour period to the perfect storing temperature of just above freezing. Next they are carefully packed 4 roses at a time & wrapped with cardboard and sponge to prevent any damage or bruising. Each layer is then covered with a special sheet containing hydrogen chloride, which protects the stems from Botrytis, a harmful fungus. Each stem sits within a bubble of water to ensure the flower is kept fed during its 4000 mile journey to Holland. Upon arriving in Holland only a few hours later, the roses are then sold at auction to the flying Dutchmen that deliver to florists, flower shops and small businesses across the UK.

The flowers that the supermarkets buy at a quarter of the price, experience a rather different journey. Grown on another farm, by different suppliers, these roses are not scented and are cut before they start to open – to force longevity. These roses are cooled much faster over 12 hours, rather than 24, to minimise costs. The supermarket flowers are unable to travel with water as this will heavily affect the weight of the cargo and again impact on the costs. The flowers are given a last minute drink before being densely packed in large boxes and set on their 4000 mile journey. Upon arriving in Holland, the flowers are inspected and the damaged flowers discarded. The ‘undamaged’ flowers then have their ends cut, as they have begun to die due to lack of water. They are then given a much needed drink before being wrapped and sold to the supermarkets in bulk.

The Tambuzi Rose, with its very large blooming flower head, an abundance of petals, long, thick stem and gorgeous scent is bought by florists for approximately £1 - £2 per stem. The supermarket roses, non-scented, with small flower head and short stem are bought for approximately 40p – 50p per stem. These prices are not determined by who is buying them.. instead they are priced according to the quality, grade and longevity of the flower.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that supermarket flowers are bad or that you shouldn’t buy them. They serve their purpose as a quick, convenient and cheap purchase. However, it would be lovely if that when customers decide to spend extra on the luxury of beautiful flowers, purchased from a florist, they do so knowing that they are paying for the superior quality of the flower and not just ‘supporting small businesses’. We will always do a happy dance at the end of each day knowing that you have supported us.. but we hope that you’ll do the same knowing that you have flowers worth 4 times more than the supermarket alternative. Luxury flowers that cost a few quid more but smell beautiful, look stunning & last so much longer in your homes.

To further brag our brilliance as florists.. we leave you with some handy flower tips to ensure you get even more for your hard earned cash 

1). We know how lovely flowers look in the window, but the heat from direct sunlight will kill the flowers in a few days. They are best in a cool place away from direct sunlight, radiators and heat sources.

2). Always cut the stems with a sharp knife rather than scissors. This will ensure that the stem is not squashed or damaged and therefore can drink better.

3). Always cut the stems at an angle. This will help them to drink better when in your vases.

4). Always wash your vases with soap and water. Bacteria sits in the vases and will contaminate your lovely new flowers, making them die much quicker. Make sure your vases are fresh and clean before placing the flowers in them.

5). Make sure you remove the leaves that sit below the water line. The leaves breed bacteria, which will contaminate the water, if not removed.

6). Make sure you change the fresh water every couple of days. This will keep the flowers alive for longer, as they feed on fresh rather than stale water.

7). DON’T use cold water in your vases! Flowers like lukewarm water and will open up beautifully.

8). Lilies are harmful to cats when eaten, so always place them out of reach if you have pets.

9). Ranunculus are harmful to cats and dogs if eaten. So always place them out of reach if you have pets.

10). Hydrangeas LOVE water and drink FAST. Ensure you replace their fresh water daily for longevity.

Enjoy your beautiful flowers, wherever you have purchased them from & thanks for reading x

By greensofhighgate, Mar 7 2017 09:51PM

International Women’s Day (IWD)

Each year the 8th March provides us with an annual occasion to celebrate women, to shine a spotlight on the achievements that we have made and continue to make, in the workplace and elsewhere. However, it is also a day to reflect on the work that is still needed & must be done for our society to succeed in the way it should.

The World Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap will not entirely close until the year 2186. That is 169 years from now until we see real equality!

It is so sad to see, that in this day and age, we are still discussing gender inequality - never mind the thought of it still being a reality, for so many people around the world, for the next 169 years.

Fortune magazine, this week, reported that the women’s share of Parliament worldwide is at its highest ever rate. Great news! But then the actual statistics do make for a less exciting read. At the end of 2015, the women’s share in parliament was 22.6%. At the end of 2016, it has risen to 23.3%. Yes we are moving forward but so much more needs to be done.

During my career in business, I have seen first-hand how important it is for women to have a seat at a leadership table and a voice in an organisation. There is no denying that gender diversity can help drive business success.

At Greens of Highgate, we have a healthy female to male ratio in our team. Of course it is easier to be in control of the gender gap when you run a small family business. The pay, opportunities, voices & inputs are easy to manage. However, even when you look at gender stereotypes within the workplace, everyone has to contribute equally to the heavy lifting of produce, or to arranging flowers and floral displays. There is no room to pigeon hole tasks or responsibilities and everyone chips in to the business’s needs. It is super easy to value each and every member and their contribution equally, regardless of gender.

We are also fortunate that in Highgate Village, gender parity is visible with so many of the local and independent shops run or owned by successful women.

The industry in which we work is somewhat different. The fruit & veg market is very much a male territory, the greengrocers are men, the produce wholesalers are men, the porters and fork-lift drivers all men. You may spot a few females at the market but they will be part of the catering and tea service.

Typically you think flowers or florist and you might picture a woman, however, when you visit Covent Garden Market, most of the flower sellers are men. If you order your flowers from Holland, they arrive via the 'flying dutch men' and the flower auctions are again all men.

It would be great to see more women in this industry and I am sure in years to come, the markets will not be so predominantly male. Better diversity is needed across both industries and it would be incredible to see both men & women succeeding equally.. lets just hope that we don't really have to wait 169 years to see it.

In the words of Richard Branson, ‘International Women’s Day is an important and great reminder that all of us in business can do much more to promote equality, respect and fairness’.

This year IWD have a theme, which is #BeBoldForChange .. there are lots of examples on their website for you to make bold changes as an individual or an organisation.

Some of the examples are really easy, I have listed a few below but take a look at the full list if you can.

- Challenge Stereotypes

- Monitor the gender pay gap

- Educate youth about positive relationships

- Volunteer your help to a local women’s charity

- Support or back a women-owned business

- Celebrate women’s achievements

Lastly, before I hear the screams of ‘Feminist’.. I leave you with some of my favourite inspiring quotes.

‘A feminist is anyone who recognises the equality and full humanity of women & men’ Gloria Steinem

‘A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle’ Irina Dunn

‘In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders’ Sheryl Sandberg

‘In politics if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman’. Margaret Thatcher

Thank you for reading


By guest, Jan 30 2017 06:13PM

Our lovely greengrocers shop in Highgate had a make-over, and to match we needed a shiny new website!

We also wanted to offer you - our customers the chance to buy your fruit, veg and flowers online! Order your weekly vegetable box, send someone you love some flowers and we've added a page where you can write your shopping list down and we will sort it all out for you! With FREE local delivery to certain North London postcodes!

We also wanted to get across to our fantastic customers all our news, offers and up to date information about our flower and fruit and veg shop.

Sign up to our newsletter and offers, to keep up to date on any special deals we will be doing.

And a big thank you to Fi & Becs Design and Marketing for designing and building our website - we love it!


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