After 29 years, reed russell knows a thing or two about flowers. Several times a week, she gets up in the wee hours to go to market, and stuffs her van full of the freshest, most delightful goods for her flower shop and garden centre. Over the years her business has grown to include all aspects of traditional floristry, from weddings to births to funerals, as well as film work, four-season container gardening, garden design, planting, and maintenance. But it wasn’t always that way.
In 1986 reed took a job in a flower shop called Eliza Doolittle on Queen Street East in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood. Eliza Doolittle was Toronto’s first European-style flower shop, and reed was drawn to the shop’s simple, uncontrived approach to design and charming antique filled ambience . She had no special training, but an eye for colour and design, a curiosity about nature, and an abundance of youthful enthusiasm.
Her knowledge about flowers, gardening, and botany expanded, and by 1989 she had bought the business from her employer. She moved a little bit “east of Eliza” on Queen, into a simple store front, as the beautiful old Queen Anne style house that was Eliza Doolittle’s home had been sold.
Here the garden side of the business exploded and soon the shop found its way back to its original home where more space was available for the garden centre.
The two sides of the business – plants and flowers – feed into each other, and reed firmly believes that “we are better florists because we are gardeners; we are better gardeners because we are florists.”
The shop was on the move again in 2000, settling into it’s current home, another gem of a place on Upper Gerrard, in the Beach Hill neighbourhood. This quirky location has a woodsy feel, and is full of recycled vintage finds and bee boxes that display the store’s trademark floral wonders: wild, whimsical, and always original.
Behind the shop, the award-winning Secret Garden thrives in a much expanded space, and is about as far from a big box garden centre as you can get.
So almost 30 years and 3 migrations later East of Eliza remains dedicated to the sacred duty florists perform; participating in all the major rites of passage that mark the human journey.
Reed and her fabulous team translate feelings into flowers, and consider it an honour to be of service.
For exemplary service and carriage-trade quality all with mid-market pricing, visit East of Eliza- you are always welcome. .
Oh and it smells really in good here!