A new monthly flower market opened in Chiswick on Sunday gathering thousands of people with hopes of reviving the hight street.
Chiswick Flower Market, set up by residents Ollie Saunders, Karen Liebreich and Bridget Osborne during lockdown, opened on Old Market Place with crowds queuing to buy flowers, plants and decorative plants products.
The first flower market to open in London for 150 years illustrates the craze around plants and gardening activities, which have surged during lockdown.
Commercial surveyor and co-founder Ollie Saunders, 47, said: “I had a moment this morning where I was a bit overwhelmed.
“We planned it so meticulously, and it was better than I expected.
“I’m very proud of the team that built this and came up with these ideas.”
By midday, 3,000 people had wandered around the 20 stalls selected with care by Mr Saunders, Ms Liebreich and Ms Osborne.
From tropical plants to kids-friendly seeding boxes, all traders share the same dedication to environment and sustainability practices.
Mr Saunders said: “I wanted to create a sort of set up where we can demonstrate good sustainable businesses, get people thinking about the planet and what we should be doing so hence the reason why we got delivery bikes and all sorts.”
The cargo bikes can deliver purchases for free within a 2-mile circle of the marketplace.
With the aim to be the Columbia Road Market of west London, Chiswick Flower Market’s volunteers also hope to revitalise Chiswick’s high street, which saw shops closures even before the pandemic.
Mr Saunders said: “I’ve been upset by the way in which Chiswick High Road, like many high streets around the UK, has seen a lot of decline and I thought it was a way to get people to come to Chiswick, have a nice day out and support our local businesses because if we don’t do something, the High Road will die.
“If we can make Chiswick as well known as Columbia Road, then it will be an even better place than it is already.
“Columbia Road is amazing, but I hope we can make something different here in Chiswick.
“We’ve got a slightly different set up, we’ve got more plant specialists and I really want people to get into gardening and have English cut flowers.”
The market has also enabled new ventures to bloom fully, such as Microfoods, a family business focused on microgreens, which launched at the market.
Microfoods owner Thierry Spagnou, 57, said: “It’s the first day today but I’ve been growing microgreens as a hobby for the last 18 months.
“I was selling to friends and families, then I thought ‘Why not the market?’”
For his first time as a market trader, Mr Spagnou offered different types of edible vegetables and herbs seedlings, such as white mustard, pea and broccoli microgreens.
His plants, like many on the market, are grown locally, in Strand-on-the-Green, beside Kew.
The area is renowned for the popularity of its parks and gardens, with Kew Gardens boasting “the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”.
Chiswick itself has had a long history of horticulture, with Chiswick House and Gardens being an early demonstration of English style gardens.
Ms Liebreich said: “The Williams pear and the Conference pear were created just down that road over there.
“The whole area was nursery gardens and market gardens before.
“Paxton, before he went to Chatsworth and to create Crystal Palace, was an apprentice here.
“We have an amazing garden history and the flower market is just the next step.”
Chiswick Flower Market runs on the first Sunday of the month from 9.30am to 3pm, and will be open on October 4, November 1 and December 6.
A list of all market traders can be found here.