Guess what? It’s Valentine’s day. Yeah, yeah… it’s all a Hallmark conspiracy to make you buy stuff. Whatever. Personally, any excuse to buy a beautiful bunch of flowers is good enough for me.

My favourite florists aren’t pricey, snobbish places where you have to be embarrassed about your $20 budget. The following 5 places are all friendly, un-pretentious small businesses that can put together something stunning on any budget. The staff are patient and lovely and you’ll be sure to leave with something that’ll make that special someone feel extra special.

In no particular order…

Pollon Flowers

Pollon Flowers is operated by Nichola Minton-Connell. It’s a tiny (but well-stocked) shop in the most beautiful location – framed by an arch at the rear of St Pauls Cathedral (that’s the big Church opposite Fed Square). The staff are so lovely too… it’s all smiles in there. :)

Pollon Flowers
Shop 1/199 Flinders Lane
Melbourne 3000

9663 8232

The Fresh Flower Man

The Fresh Flower Man is Ian Sparkes. His shop has an incredible range… and every single stem is stunning. I don’t know what they do here with the slightly droopy, seen-better-days, week-old flowers… but they certainly don’t discount them and put them out the front. I think they must cull a good percentage of their stock daily. I have never seen a less that perfect bloom once in this shop. Honestly. If you’re feeling generous, they do a stunning bouquet… They used to do all the flowers on Thank God You’re Here (Channel 10) and every single arrangement was faultless. Also… they’re cheaper than you’d expect. I mean – they’re posh… but the prices are completely reasonable. I think. (Of course if a bouquet is a little out of your league you can still pick up a bunch of something gorgeous for under $20 – the beautiful waterlilies pictured top right were $17 when I visited…)

The Fresh Flower Man
379 Malvern rd
South Yarra

9827 0255

Flowers Vasette

Flowers Vasette in Fitzroy was the clear front-runner when I was asking people their favourite florists last week. Vasette do have a great range, at good prices… they’re always busy… and there’s a 15 minute un-metered park out the front. I’d say that they’re not quite as good value as they used to be… but still definitely up there amongst my favourites.

Flowers Vasette
247 Brunswick st
Fitzroy

9419 4988

Art Stems

Art Stems in Lygon st, Carlton used to be open 24 hours! I would often go in late for that last-minute gift, and chat to the night-shift guy, Andy… and wonder how on earth they could justify being open all night! Now Andy’s overseas and no one else seems keen on the graveyard shift… so they do close at night these days. However, they’re open 7 days til late and they have a fantastic, very affordable range of flowers. Again, super friendly staff, and gorgeous bunches starting at under $10.

Art Stems
1018 Lygon st
Carlton North

9387 0566

Albert Park Fruit Palace

Albert Park Fruit Palace isn’t a florist. It’s actually a slightly over-priced grocery shop. However… whilst the fruit and veg is on the pricey side, the flowers are cheap and cheerful, and their selection would rival most small florists. They won’t do a bouquet, and they won’t offer you a selection of nicely coloured tissue paper… but their range is great, and they always have interesting tall branchy things like willow branches, cherry blossoms, fruit tree branches etc etc… very sculptural – and way cheaper than they would be at an actual florist.

Albert Park Fruit Palace
91 Dundas Place
Albert Park

9690 4383