Joseph x New York Botanical Gardens : Part 2
It was inevitable really. Truly, it was. When we were first contacted by the wonderful team at the New York Botanical Gardens to see if we would potentially be interested in coming to teach a few Masterclasses for them, we already knew we would fall in love on this trip - we just didn't realise quite how hard.
With Joseph having lived in NYC for the best part of a year back in 2012, the Joseph Massie brand has a history with the city, but this trip would be our first time teaching at NYBG, or in NYC even, and even typing that sentence still feels like a 'pinch us' moment after the fact.
After a quick flight and a whirlwind first evening we landed fresh on 28th St., between 6th - 7th Avenue, one Thursday morning and immediately we felt back home. Most of our favourite suppliers, the same wholesalers, stood exactly as they were five years ago, seemingly unchanged by time. It was good to be back. Arriving on 28th St. around 7am gave us a good ninety minutes before we were due to meet our contact from NYBG - plenty of time to scope out the armfuls of beauties we were hoping to score.
Never visited the New York Flower Market?
JOSEPH'S TOP TIPS FOR SHOPPING 28th ST.
- The early bird catches the worm - rise early! Most vendors will close by 11am/12pm, so an early start is essential.
- Do a lap of the whole street before purchasing a thing - prices vary, quality varies, and selection varies also. A quick lap to see whats what before you purchase a single stem could save you mistakes later.
- Almost in contrast to my second tip, but a point that is also equally as valid - don't hesitate! Shopping on 28th St. moves fast. If you absolutely MUST MUST MUST have a certain bunch, and you can see there isn't much of it available, buy it now or ask the vendor to put it aside - it might not be there when you lap back around again, and we don't want you to have a broken heart.
- Certain vendors are great for different products - Major for major foliage, Caribbean Cuts for incredible tropicals, Jamali for sundries, Dutch Flower Line for an interesting mix of blooms, Associated for local grown goodies and G. Page for the unusual, the exquisite and the frankly sublime.
- Parking and loading will be an absolute nightmare - I've shopped in flower markets around the world and NYC holds the Number One spot for the worst parking/loading set-up ever. If possible shop in a handful of selected vendors, and concentrate your buying - try and avoid having a few bunches in every vendor. Or even better ... get your blooms delivered!
28th St. did not let us down. During our search, we found the most incredible Ranunculus, dyed Japanese Sweet Peas, the sweetest early season Peonies, powdered Anemones and robust bundles of thick Cherry Blossom - everything the heart could want and more. Take a peek at just some of our finds! With so much Spring abundance to pick from, we opted for a subtle purple, plum, grey and lavender colour story for both of our classes, packed with our favourite Spring blooms.
After shopping for our class supplies, we met Lisa, our wonderful co-ordinator from NYBG who greeted us with big hugs and warm smiles and expertly ferried us and our coveted blooms swiftly to NYBG in the Bronx. Set in over fifty acres of verdant landscape in the Bronx, NYBG is a hidden jewel, easily accessible from Manhattan, and just a twenty minute train journey from Grand Central Station. When you're in NYC, we can't recommend highly enough a visit to this magical place.
We spent our first day at NYBG prepping our floral materials, unpacking supplies, checking and re-checking class lists and preparing vessels ready for our Masterclasses with our team of fabulous assistants. Whilst at NYBG, we taught two Masterclasses - the first day on Bridal Flowers - featuring a signature bridal bouquet, a buttonhole, a corsage, and a floral headpiece too - whilst our second day was focused solely on Table Centrepieces, with most students opting to take both classes. As with every class it was very much our mission to pack each class with as much practical, hands-on learning as possible, supported by underpinning technical knowledge. Each one of our 60 students left each class with armfuls of flowers, eager to display their creations.
Our students were enthusiastic, bright, ambitious and fun - it was beyond a pleasure to spend time with them exploring new concepts, working with new techniques, and having a great time as we did so. We felt there was such a great energy to the room, bubbling over with excitement as out students pulled the flowers for their compositions. Such. A. Great. Feeling.
Our time at NYBG was magical from start to finish. After our time there, we believe a visit to it's incredible glasshouses should be on every flower lover's hit list without a doubt, irregardless of the season. When we were at the Gardens, snow was still deep on the ground, but it didn't impact the beauty of the nature there. Put it on your list - you won't be disappointed.
With the most magical fresh flowers from all over the World, teamed with wonderful assistants and sixty incredible students, our experience at NYBG couldn't have been any more rewarding. It's safe to say, we're firmly back in love with NYC.
Until next time NYBG!
P.s. - Have you any stories of NYBG or taking a class at NYBG? Or maybe you have some more tips for our readers of how to navigate 28th St. like a pro? Let us know!