The Flower Shop: Peckham's very own florist's
Words and pictures by Mark Barnett
At the north-eastern end of Rye Lane, right on the corner with Peckham High Street sits a traditional shop which has stood the test of time. When you walk inside The Flower Shop the air is filled with the fragrance of the many plants and flowers on display. Brenda Amey, owner of the shop, has worked there for 45 years through thick and thin and has seen many changes in the area in that time.
photo caption: Brenda with her grandson Terry
Say It With Flowers
Brenda attests that the secret to the longevity of her business is that people still need flowers. What would the key occasions, like weddings and funerals as well as Valentine’s and Mother’s Day, be without flowers? But people also need flowers to say those things which mere words can’t fully express. “[Flowers] can say ‘sorry’, which we get a lot,” says Brenda. “They can say ‘thank you’, they can say ‘I love you’. [Flowers] can mean anything. Whatever you want them to mean, they can mean.” Brenda also points out they can also cheer someone up: “If someone’s depressed, you give them a bunch of flowers, they feel better just by looking at them.” Lillies, of all varieties, have proved to be very popular since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Being in business for five decades Brenda knows her customers well. “We get a lot students around here and they buy loads of plants to put in their rooms to make them feel a bit better” she says.
Brenda’s favourite flowers are white tulips and all spring flowers which are just coming into season around about now. Examples of spring flowers include daffodils, tulips, narcissus, crocuses, snowdrops, cherry blossoms. They come in many different colours and Brenda believes they make you happy.
Ever Changing Times
Peckham born and bred and having worked her way up from assistant to owner of The Flower Shop, Brenda puts her success down to struggling on even through downturns: “You just pull your socks up and get on with it.” Taking a characteristically forthright approach Brenda reflects on the changes that have happened in the area in her time: “There’s been changes for the good, changes for the bad. The changes for the bad is when they got rid of Jones and Higgins (a former department store which was located where the Aylesham Centre is now), British Home Stores, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, they were all in Rye Lane. [When they left] it brought the area down. Now it’s changing around again. It’s getting better. You’ve got lovely little coffee shops, wine bars popping up here, there and everywhere [and] you’ve got a variety of people and they’re all nice.”
Mother’s Day will be on 22 March and The Flower Shop will be open.
The Flower Shop, 76 Peckham High Street, London SE15 5ED tel: 020 7639 3922
Facebook: The Flower shop