526 Hudson St., nr. W. 10th St.; 646-688-5753
Sure, you can buy a bunch of tulips at the corner deli, but those flowers were probably packaged in sweatshop conditions and treated with a cocktail of toxic pesticides. Buying an arrangement at Gardenia Organic, on the other hand, means you’ll get gorgeous, spray-free buds grown on sustainable farms and hand-harvested by happy little elves (just kidding, but the farms do treat their workers fairly). The best part: Gardenia’s flowers aren’t expensive. A small bouquet at VSF, just down West 10th Street, starts at $75, while a similar bouquet at Gardenia costs $65—and comes in a recycled-glass vase. Owner Hannah Ling claims she is the first florist in the city whose flowers are either USDA-certified organic or meet VeriFlora (a sustainability-certification program) standards. Even the shop’s delivery service is eco-obsessed—custom and premade arrangements are delivered by rickshaw.
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).