Covered Market traders gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Garden of Oxford.

The florist opened in 1983 and Paul Birtles joined the team in 1984.

At the weekend he and his staff hosted a big party at the historic market to celebrates four decades of trading.

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Mr Birtles said he was delighted so many traders past and present were able to attend.

Oxford Mail: The Garden of Oxford team

He added: "There were current traders and we also invited some of the older faces who no longer work in the market.

"When we looked around we saw traders whose companies together had provided 1,000 years of business in the market."

Mr Birtles said The Garden of Oxford's predecessor had been the market's outlet store for Waterperry Gardens.

Then Colin Bonner bought the lease and Mr Birtles began working at The Garden of Oxford the following year. Mr Bonner was at the party.

Mr Birtles said: "The party was a great way of saying thank you to our staff - past and present - our customers and fellow traders.

"At the end of the evening we had a little collection and raised £1,500 for Sobell House.

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"We do as much as we can to support the homeless and Sobell House hospice."

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Mr Birtles' wife Eileen is a partner in the business and she once sold flowers from a kiosk in Gloucester Green.

Mr Birtles thanked manager Ellie Murphy for helping to drive the business forward.

His weekly routine has not changed for many years.

Twice a week he travels at night to Covent Garden Flower Market so he can arrive back at the shop at the Covered Market to make sure it is fully stocked with fresh flowers before 8am.

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The shop specialises in English-grown fresh flowers.

The website says: "We have a particular passion for English-grown fresh flowers and are proud to offer our customers the finest seasonal flowers grown in this country by personally selecting the very best available at London’s New Covent Garden Market and also from a number of local growers. 

"We complement our range of home-grown produce by carefully selecting the freshest imported offerings, and get fresh deliveries several days a week.

"Our experienced staff create beautiful bespoke arrangements to order, and offer a comprehensive floristry service.

"With  our own  full-time  driver, we are able to provide a prompt and reliable delivery service throughout Oxford and the surrounding area - same-day delivery is an option whenever possible.

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"In addition to fresh cut-flowers, we also stock both indoor and outdoor plants along with decorative and terracotta pottery.

"Our shop changes with the seasons, and we always have something to tempt the gardener - from seeds to bulbs, from roots to specimen plants."

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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