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The Best of Buds

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Those are all deli flowers.  

Need some nice flowers? We asked dozens of floral designers, wedding planners, decorators, and hotel managers to tell us where they go when they want an outrageous orchid, an elaborate centerpiece, or a last-minute something for Sweetie. Here, the flowermongers that came out on top in each category.

SIDEWALK STAND
Grace’s Marketplace

1237 Third Ave., at 71st St.
Extending half the block and featuring both staples and more exotic picks like tiger lilies (mostly priced about $5 to $10 a bunch), the blooms outside this gourmet market make the offerings at Whole Foods look downright measly. The big draw right now is the huge selection of lilacs ($10), which is available, like the rest of the stock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


BULK FLOWERS
Foliage Garden

120 W. 28th St., nr. Sixth Ave. 212-989-3089
Fellow flower-district purveyors G. Page, Dutch Flower Line, and Fischer & Page all get high marks from the pros, but only Foliage Garden sells retail to us civilians. The owners have twenty greenhouses with a wide selection of tropical plants. If they aren’t stocking what you want, they’ll special-order it. And true to their wholesaling roots, the more you buy, the bigger the discount.

UNUSUAL ORCHIDS
Zezé

938 First Ave., nr. 52nd St. 212-753-7767
No one does the office-windowsill staple quite like the Brazil-born Zezé, who offers such alienlike rarities as Lady Slipper orchids (from $150 each). If you’re looking for something pretty but less financially oppressive, a sweet-smelling branch of lilacs is just $25.

BIG-BOX FLORAL DEPARTMENT
Home Depot

40 W. 23rd St., nr. Fifth Ave. 212-929-9571
“Believe it or not, Home Depot has great orchids,” tips Meredith Waga Perez of Belle Fleur. “They’re not totally superior, but for $25, they’re less than what you’ll find at the wholesale market.” The downstairs level of the Manhattan store has a small plant selection with cheap, good-looking potted hydrangeas ($8), azaleas ($9), begonias ($10), and yellow, white, and orange phalaenopsis orchids ($25). Buy a vessel at the store, and a staffer will pot the plant for you.

NURSERY
Gowanus Nursery

45 Summit St., nr. Hamilton Ave., Red Hook; 718-852-3116
A dream for Brooklynites; less so for carless Manhattanites, who have to schlep fifteen minutes from the F train at Carroll Street. But once you arrive, you’ll stay a while. The 6,500-square-foot grounds are a public garden of sorts, the brainchild of owner Michelle Paladino, who keeps prices exceedingly low for her supply of annuals, perennials, trees, and flowering shrubs.


EXPENSE-ACCOUNT FLOWERS
L’Olivier Floral Atelier

213 W. 14th St., nr. Seventh Ave. 212-255-2828
The florist for the Carlyle, Frédéric Fekkai, and Henri Bendel, among other chairman-of-the-board types whose names he won’t disclose, L’Olivier owner Olivier Giugni is known for his understated style and high-quality imports. His arrangements start at $85 and go all the way up to $1,500 for a tower of 300 white French tulips.

GREENMARKET VENDOR
James Durr

Park Ave. S. nr. 14th St.
In-the-know shoppers line up at Durr’s stand in Union Square at 7:30 a.m. on Saturdays (his only day there) to buy peonies at $10 a bunch from his son Daniel. Among his neighbors, “Durr is in a different league,” says Michael Barry of Seven Pines Flower Farm. “He has hundreds of acres of land, and he specializes in woody ornamentals but also sells peonies, zinnias, dahlias. You name it, he grows it.”


BRIDAL BOUQUET
Bridget Vizoso of the Designers Co-op

212-721-2188 or info@thedesignersco-op.com
Because she doesn’t have a storefront, Bridget Vizoso does mostly small weddings (from $8,000; $280 for a bouquet, pictured above). But her bouquets rival the Belle Fleurs and Takashimayas of the scene: They’re clean and modern and free of unnecessary bells and whistles (Swarovski crystals, pearls). Says Vizoso, “I won’t even add a feather unless it’s a flower that looks like a feather.”

CENTERPIECE
Ovando

337 Bleecker St., nr. Christopher St.; 212-924-7848
Rarely using more than two colors or three types of flowers (albeit sometimes bizarre ones like the black-bat lilies she bought recently), Sandra de Ovando brilliantly juxtaposes hard elements (a succulent, a curly-willow branch) against soft (an orchid, a sweet pea). Everything is calculated and purposeful right down to the containers, many bought from the annual Maison & Objets fair in Paris.

FAKE FLOWERS
PANY Silk Flowers

146 W. 28th St., nr. Seventh Ave. 212-645-9526
From a distance—and often up close, too—Pany’s silk wannabes look perfectly real. Its roses, peonies, orchids, and gerberas have slight color variations, so expect a dozen red roses (from $60) to have some brown and lighter red for added verisimilitude. A silk peony goes for $12.50 and will last years.

Contributors: ­Nandini ­D’Souza, ­Denise ­Penny, S. Jhoanna Robledo, and Beth ­Shapouri


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