Where no flower is unfashionable

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Where no flower is unfashionable

It sometimes seems as though no idea that passes through the hands of Seoul’s trendsetters south of the river fails to succeed.
They’ve done it with clinics for plastic surgery, European fashion houses, fusion restaurants and now flower shops, packaged to suit the modern religion of health and natural living.
The flower shops that are sprouting up in Gangnam are not the ordinary shops familiar to Korea, the ones full of roses and lilies, with maybe a few tulips and violets added in the spring.
Customers are spoiled for choice in these new shops, which feature exotic plants flown from Europe or Latin America, and designs that have been inventively “mix-and-matched” or pulled right out of Martha Stewart Living.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 flower shops in Seoul that are leaders in high-end flower arrangements, including small, mom-and-pop establishments that offer excellent-quality flowers just plucked from a garden. Most of the shops were selected based on the recommendations of freelance florists and editors of local style magazines.

Helena Flower
02-549-6644, Cheongdam-dong
Prices start at: 40,000 won ($34)
Helena Flower is known for its vivid array of palettes, ranging from pastel tones to bright orange and purple. Yellows and whites are sometimes used for weddings, but the basic concept at Helena Flower is classical. The style here is notable for the use of wild plants and roots, which are often mixed with roses for a refined mix-and-match look. For formal occasions, the shop advises that flowers be presented in a glass vase. Antique props like baskets and beads, which were collected abroad by the shop’s owner and style director, Yu Seung-jae, are on display in the shop, whose interior decor has a romantic Spanish style which itself merits a visit, if you are in the area. The shop asks for the occasion and the recipient’s preferred colors and styles, then takes it from there. New seasonal flowers and imported plants arrive at the shop twice a week.
Jane Packer
02-3479-1679, Shinsegae Department Store, Chosun Hotel
Prices start at: 40,000 won
The reputation of this British floral designer pretty much speaks for itself when it comes to these two upscale franchises, newly set up in Seoul. Flowers that used to be served in typical baskets with pink ribbons have been given inventive accessories like pearls, pebbles and fruit shrubs. It’s typical of the Jane Packer style to work in large, bold groupings rather than with one or two blossoms with complicated decorations. Jane Packer, whose global clientele includes fashion gurus like Calvin Klein and Christian Dior, has supplied elaborate sprays to local fashion shows, celebrity weddings and major launching events since its arrival in Seoul. Free delivery service is available for orders over 150,000 won.
Pink, Pink
02-3444-8040, Apgujeong-dong
Prices start at: 30,000 won
The name of this shop hints at the design concept. Romance and playfulness are the main selling points of this shop, which is located in Apgujeong-dong. You can tell this from the shop’s wacky interior, which features entire walls full of pink spangles and a display of flowers bursting from a large bathtub by the show window. A green wedding bouquet the shop’s florists recently designed for a young Korean couple offers a glimpse of the shop’s unconventional style of arrangements, created by two female owners, a biology major and a fashion design major from the United States. Shrubs and exotic flowers are imported from Europe and Japan. The shop is known for using layered gradations of the same color in its bouquets.
02-379-0449, Pyeongchang-dong
Prices start at: 20,000 won
Kkotyeoul knows how to sell without sacrificing quality. At about half the price you might pay elsewhere, florists at the shop gurantee that they “can create a bouquet whose quality won’t embarass anyone.” It’s also surprising that only 10 percent of the shop’s inventory is roses (it’s often 80 percent elsewhere). The rest are seasonal plants and flowers that are rarely used in conventional flower arrangements, such as sunflowers. During the fall, the shop florist mixes them with maple leaves and turns them into an earthy bouquet. In summer, when the price of white roses drops by half due to fewer weddings, the shop mixes them with colorful branches with small fruits. One of the most enthusiastic responses the shop has recently received was for an elaborate flower basket designed for the birth of a baby boy, which was decorated with golden straws. Golden straws were often hung in front of a house with red chili peppers in the old days, symbolizing the birth of a baby boy.
Soho and Noho
02-3445-5468, Apgujeong-dong
Prices start at: 30,000 won
Soho and Noho is perhaps one of the first shops, if not the most popular, to have introduced the idea of luxury gardening to flower shops in Korea, and added a brand value to it. The shop has been around for six years. That’s long enough to make history in Seoul, where stores go in and out of business every day. So far the shop has seven locations, including its latest branch in Dosan Park south of the river. Simple, modern European style is typical of Soho and Noho, which now offers flower arrangement classes, as well as table decorating classes.

Christian Tortu
02-3446-6241, Cheongdam-dong
Prices start at: 30,000 won
In the world of designer floral arrangements, this shop has a status equivalent to Gucci’s in fashion. Christian Toutu, founded by a French florist, is as luxurious you can get in flowers. Mr. Tortu has stirred a sensation in the world of home decorating since his designs with Chanel. Garden roses are combined with blackberry branches; wildflowers are mixed with cultivated plants. Green almonds, lotus fruit, and poppy capsules come together as a decoration. If you plan to impress someone with your taste, this shop is probably a place you’ll want to consider. But be warned! There is a bill you have to pay at the end.

Annie Flower and Deco
02-1588-6787, Yangjae-dong
Prices start at: 30,000 won
The shop is part of the Yangjae Flower Market, a major complex in Seoul for flowers and plants. The shop is primarily a wholesaler, but also does retail services. It carries everything from cactus to artificial plants. Seasonal roses are the shop’s specialty, with colors ranging from light purple to green, but it doesn’t carry imports.
Evenezer Flower Shop
02-412-1569, Jamsil
Prices start at: 30,000 won
This humble shop, located in the midst of one of the city’s largest apartment complexes, has a diverse clientele, ranging from senior citizens interested in the shop’s orchids to fresh bouquets for younger office workers in the area. Perhaps the shop’s main selling point is the freshness of its flowers, which are carefully selected out of stock that had been exposed to as few chemicals as possible. Most flowers here have firm stems and natural fragrance. The shop only carries domestic plants and flowers. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are when new flowers arrive at the store; the owner hints that Monday is when the plants are in the best shape. The shop is located within the Useong 4-cha apartment complex.
Rode Flower Shop
02-1588-6787, Yeoksam-dong
Prices start at: 30,000 won
If you want personalized service in buying flowers, which is particularly difficult to get south of the river, this is the place to be. This unpretentious mom-and-pop establishment near Yeoksam subway station simply offers fresh flowers and nothing else. The shop’s wrapping styles and the colors of its ribbons may not be as selective as what you get on Rodeo Street south of the river, but service is pleasant enough. Styles vary depending on the occasion, but the shop’s concept is rather modern, designed by young florists. Roses are the steady sellers.

Hyunjin Wonye
02-3482-4420, Seocho-dong
Prices start at: negotiable
Hyunjin Wonye is primarily a wholesaler. The shop has three branches throughout Seoul, including the one located on the third floor of Gangnam Express Terminal. The shop in Gangnam is a smorgasbord of fresh roses, offering up to 20 varieties of roses in a wide range of colors. The prices start at 1,000 won a dozen, but there are even better bargains to be had. If you intend to buy a large bundle of flowers and keep them in a vase, this is the place to buy them. Note: Hyunjin Wonye doesn’t do wrapping. So for a formal gift, you might find yourself having to rely on your own skills in that department.


Terminal Flower Market
The 2nd and 3rd floor of Gangnam Express Terminal is the second-largest flower complex in Seoul after Yangjae Flower Market, which is about 15 minutes away from here. Despite the smaller scale, the terminal flower market is easier to shop at than any other flower market in the city. The place is well organized, with up to 300 shops squeezed into two floors.
Products here, whether flowers, cactus or artificial plants, are remarkably cheap and fresh if you go on the right day of the week.
A dozen carnations or chrysanthemums can be bought for 500 won. The prices of roses vary, depending on color. Normally the red roses are the cheapest, since they’ve become the most common type. They can be bought for 1,000 won a dozen or even less. Some of the more unusual colors go for up to 5,000 won a dozen.
If you go on Saturday afternoon, you can find discounts of as much as 20 to 30 percent, since many of the flowers in stock then are leftovers from earlier in the week. Bargaining is possible, but the stated prices are normally low enough for all but the most frugal.
The place is open from midnight to 1 p.m. Weekday mornings around 1 a.m. are the best time to get fresh flowers. This is the time when most Korean retailers pour into the market in search of the best deals. If you want to avoid the crowd, go 6 or 7 a.m. Note, though, that most flowers in Korea are raised in greenhouses.
If your purchase is more than 50,000 won, most of the shops will deliver for free within Seoul. Delivery is made within three hours.
New flowers come in on Wednesdays and Fridays. The market is closed on Sundays. For more information, call 02-535-9898.

by Park Soo-mee
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