Califonia Bountiful

Flower market traditions

June/July 2012 California Bountiful magazine

Here's a favorite video from our archives, showcasing one of the many California flower growers who offer their beautiful blooms at the San Francisco Flower Mart.

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Downtown San Francisco is almost always brimming with activity, but one time that it's quiet is when an unheralded part of the city shines. The wee morning hours are when the San Francisco Flower Mart operates. This is the largest flower source under one roof in the world. The action starts at midnight, when hundreds of vendors sell virtually every type of greenery.

The flower market got its start in the late 1800s, when local growers gathered downtown to sell their bouquets.

Today, one of the prominent farmers at the market is Don Garibaldi of Pescadero, San Mateo County, the latest in a 116-year family floral history. It's a job that still fascinates him.

"To actually see it from a bag of seed to something that can range from two to five feet long really amazes us," Garibaldi said.

The market is an important stop for florists, who must work odd hours to secure the freshest and best flowers.

"A lot of people think we are just like a drug store where you can take something off the shelf or we hand it to you and say, 'Here it is,'" said Wilton Lee of Lee's Florist in Berkeley. "It takes a lot more than that. We have to get up at three o'clock in the morning, drive to the flower market, bring back and process the flowers. Then we arrange them in a vase before you come in and pick it up."

It doesn't get much rosier than that.

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