Picking fresh flowers not a walk in the park

Look for crisp, firm stems with plentiful blossoms

Shopping With

Your Money

March 14, 2004|By Laurie Squire

The expert: Catherine Hipp, a director at the New York Botanical Garden.

The product: Fresh-cut flowers.

What I want: I don't care if it's a huge bouquet of pink peonies or a single red rose, it's got to be fresh, fresh, fresh, as well as fragrant and richly colored.

I must have: I shop for flowers the way I shop for salad; I buy what looks good and fresh (hmmm, that word again!) on that day. Stems have to be firm and crisp, with flowers that look like they just opened (but not too open; this would indicate the end of the blooming cycle).

One thing I hate: There's nothing more disappointing than to get flowers, put them in a vase and find them pushing up daisies the next day. Quality flowers have several blossoms per stem and all buds at the same stage of opening. Steer clear of droopy petals and soggy stems on the cut line.

Savvy shopper: Buying flowers is a tactile experience. Touch the buds (they should be springy); tightly closed buds will never open. And presentation is everything. I like flowers that are given in a box, not a vase.

My pick: A potted orchid is beautiful, fragrant (some have no scent - good to know if your sweetheart's allergic) and lasts and lasts ($50 to $150).

Next best thing: Your neighborhood grocery store. Most chain supermarkets buy flowers directly from the grower, so there's no middleman, and you save as much as 30 percent.

Laurie Squire is a staff writer for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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