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Finer Points

Sometimes, a prickly roommate isn't bad. Like all New Yorkers, cacti thrive in harsh conditions -- and make perfect house plants in even the least hospitable apartment.

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If unrefrigerated milk lasts longer than most of your house plants, why not opt for a spiky, virtually unkillable cactus? The aesthetic may be Southwest chic, but the upkeep is pure time-crunched New York -- and think of the green you'll save by not having to replace those wilting lilies and browning ferns again and again.

At Noble Plant on 28th Street, you can (gingerly) pick up everything from a pronged Accuranses ($60-$80) to a rare red aloe ($95), all at about 60 percent off retail price. Owner Aila Markovic also has a beautiful selection of smaller plants: We like the String of Pearls, a trio of stalks piped in tiny white needles ($20), and the Rat Tail, a hanging, blossoming plant for $65-$75 (which, admittedly, would be sweeter by any other name). Just a few steps away, Foliage Garden sells its smaller selection at a similar markdown, and will special-order if you've got a hankering for a prairie prickly not in stock. Check out the Plant Shed's NBA-size spiral cacti for around $150 to $200 -- delivery is about $15, a deal when you consider the prospect of carting home the not exactly embraceable plant yourself. Is there an out-of-town brown thumb in your life? 1-800-Flowers offers a trio of small cacti for $35.

Noble Plant, 106 W. 28th St. (212-206-1164); Foliage Garden, 120 W. 28th St. (212-989-3089); New York Flowers and Plant Shed, 209 W. 96th St. (212-662-4400).

Picks of the Week

Tufi Duek's sample sale has Brazilian-cut jeans marked down to $76 (from $170 to $250 retail). Leather pants and skirts are 50 to 65 percent off. 530 Broadway, at Spring St., tenth fl. (212-925-8277); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 10-6:30; 4/23-4/27.

Perlina's leather handbags are up to 75 percent off retail, now $30 to $70. Backpacks and totes are $40 to $100. 10 W. 33rd St., second fl. (212-268-8530); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 9-6; 4/30-5/4.

Rhonda Lazar has shoes from Prada and Karl Lagerfeld (from $49 to $69), clothing from Jil Sander and Helmut Lang (60 to 80 percent off retail), and home accessories from Frette and Polo (mostly 70 percent off retail). Hotel Pennsylvania, 401 Seventh Ave., near 32nd St., ground floor (888-937-9006); A.E., M.C., V.; Tues.-Thurs. 8-8; 5/1-5/3.

Woodard & Greenstein will mark down cotton rugs from $14.75 to $3-$7 per square foot. 333 W. 39th St., seventh fl. (212-988-2906); A.E., M.C., V., checks accepted; sale starts Monday, 4/23, and runs until stock runs out, usually two weeks.

ABC Carpet & Home is unloading furniture, rugs, and home accessories in Morristown, New Jersey, at 40-70 percent off retail. Morristown Armory (call 212-473-3000 for directions); A.E., M.C., V.; Fri. 1-7, Sat. 10-7, Sun. 10-5; 4/27-4/29.

Check out the spring 2001 issue of New York Shops, our guide to the city's best stores, including a six-month roundup of "Sales & Bargains." On sale at newsstands now. To order a copy, call 800-496-7833 ($4.99 plus $2 shipping and handling).


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