“We’ve carried it on the best we can'', says Farah Chaudhry, 30. “People were gutted. She was 56, still really young, and everyone said she was so beautiful, always working away and so happy. It happened just after the beginning of lockdown, last year in March. When we reopened in July, people started to come in and find out. There were a lot of broken hearts”.
Customers of family florist and gift business, The Harvest Garden, in Morningside, will be familiar with Farah’s mother, Furzana Chaudhry, who died of secondary breast cancer last year. Along with her husband, Saqib, 60, they looked after the chocolate side of this well-known shop, which is opposite Church Hill Theatre.
Their job included serving customers from behind a glass counter that features uniform rows of Belgian chocolates, in varieties including coffee ganache, cognac, orange blossom and praline.
Since the couple opened the shop in December 1983, it’s been packed to the rafters with creations from the likes of luxury truffle maker Charbonnel et Walker, Heidel, Neideregger marzipan, as well as exclusive and hard-to-find names, like Canadian chocolate brand, Laura Secord.
“The biggest range in the UK,” says Farah, who works as an optometrist, when she’s not helping her dad out behind the counter.
You can’t walk past without being drawn to the window, with spotlit displays that are reminiscent of European shops. Outside, there are pots of flowers - lilies, ranunculus and Dutch tulips.
Now, they’ve taken the sad decision to close the chocolate side of the business, so Saqib can retire.
“It’s been tough on my dad, being there without her,” Farah says. “When I come in, I always expect her to be standing there, giving me instructions on what to do next, but she’s not and it hurts”.
However, The Harvest Garden will continue as a florist, under the ownership of Saqib’s brother Zahid, 61, and his wife Shabana.
So that they can extend the range, they’re hoping to clear the chocolate out by summer.
Until then, you can shop online or in person for stock that includes over 400 different Easter products.
There are chocolate bunnies, chickens and ducks, as well as every size of egg, from quail to ostrich. “The shop looks incredible right now”, says Farah.
At £99.99, their most expensive egg is a gianduja version by Belgian chocolatier Neuhaus, of which they are the only stockist in the UK.
As children, Farah and her brother, Rahib, would covet this egg the most, as well as the individual Belgian chocolates, even though they were told not to “help themselves”.
Farah says many of their loyal customers, some of whom have been coming since the Eighties, are like family to the Chaudhrys. These regulars will have to stockpile their favourites, but they’ll also miss Furzana and her presentation skills.
“She was so savvy when it came to the artistic side of it, all of her stuff was wrapped in big bows and the shop was presented fantastically”, says Farah. “”Even customers that had moved down to London, for example, would still call my mum to wrap up their boxes of chocolates. They all wanted mum’s ‘magical touch’”.
58-60 Morningside Road, www.flowersbuydelivery.co.uk