Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Across the Border: Kings Cross: Retailers: Russell Sharp the Flower King

For the past 30-odd years, Russell Sharp has been the self-styled ''King of Flowers'' or ''Friend of Flowers'', surrounding his working life with bloomin' colourful and fragrant buds. What a marvellous life to have.
I have always been a big fan of flowers and one of my earliest and happiest memories is of burying myself in a large patch of freesias that grew beside my first childhood home. I would hide in there for hours, breathing in the flowers' sweet peppery fragrance and pretending no one could see me.
As a young adult, my friends and I, armed with scissors, would trawl the roadside around our neighbourhood picking enormous bunches of freesias, which grew like wildflowers.
Now, when I am rich, my apartment is filled with cut flowers and when I am poor, there is always still at least one small vase of gorgeous blooms. As I see it, flowers are a cheap and harmless form of anti-depressant (but to this day, I have never been able to bring myself to actually pay for freesias).
When I asked Sharp about how he has managed to stay in the same business for over 30 years, he said it was because he loved flowers and liked talking to people and his job combines these two simple pleasures.

Russell Sharp doesn't actually have a retail shop but operates out of this customised truck, which transports him, his market tables, umbrellas and stock between various market locations around Sydney. So if you happen to see this truck cruising by, just imagine the petalled jewels contained within.
When I visited Sharp on Sunday at Kings Cross Markets in Fitzroy Gardens, he took me across the road for an inspection of the truck, which is fitted out with all kinds of contraptions to transport his stall safely. That big square pipe in the middle is used for holding his umbrellas. 

But he wasn't happy that the truck was empty and sent me this photograph of the fully-stocked mobile flower vehicle:

You may have seen Sharp selling flowers from the back of this truck on Friday afternoons at Foveaux Street in Surry Hills, but he only sells from there occasionally and usually sets up a stall at markets in neighbouring Kings Cross and north of Sydney at Kirribilli, Crows Nest and North Sydney. 
I often visit him on Sundays at the Kings Cross Markets in Fitzroy Gardens to pick up my weekly dose of floral medication. This week I was heading off to a party and stopped to buy some white dahlias for the host. 

But there was also these freakishly enormous sunflowers.

As well as river lillies, roses, lysianthus (above), oriental lillies and these hyper-coloured, black-centred flowers for $5, which I don't know the name of:

Because Sharp is such a top bloke (check out his business philosophy on his website) he has generously offered a special freebie for readers of My Darling Darlinghurst. All you have to do is purchase some flowers from his stall at the Kings Cross Market on a Sunday, mention My Darling Darlinghurst and he will give you one of his lovely hessian flower-carrier-bags, worth $5, for free! 
The bags are designed to carry flowers and have a plastic lining to stop water seeping through. But they are also a generous size and I have found them perfect for carting groceries or other baggage around the neighbourhood. 
The straps are long enough to fling over your shoulder and the cream cotton alongside the hessian with the aqua-blue logo print is tres French market chic.

Russell Sharp - The Flower King
Sundays: 7.30am to 5.30pm
Kings Cross Market
Fitzroy Gardens
Macleay Street
Kings Cross NSW 2010
0410 503 039

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