Top 10 Flower Varieties

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The first time we cured our home, and encountered the directive to "buy flowers," we procrastinated: we were between jobs; we needed the money for other things; we were never home enough to enjoy them. But, one week, we added a bouquet to our groceries and saw how it made a difference in how we perceived our home. Now we're addicted; we watch for new flowers along with the changing seasons. Available everywhere from supermarkets to high end florists, here's a rundown of some of our favorites and how to care for them...
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Carnations: Much maligned, these are worth a second look. And we love the smell.To know: Try the variegated ones. But stick with a color scheme. Try them: Tightly packed in a round bowl; float one, cut high, in a saucer. Available: All year round. A personal favorite.

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Daisy: Margaritas or Gerbers? To know: Place stems in hot water briefly to prevent droop. Try them: Keep them casual in a rough vase. A few Gerbers is plenty; have fun mixing and matching the colors in a few Gerbers. Available: Year round but best in summer.

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Iris: Tall and majestic, they say "spring" to us. To know: Cut them all at the same height. Help them open by sticking a finger in the top; blow gently. Try them: In a tall rectangular vase. Get two bunches. Don't fuss. Stick 'em in a great vase and leave it at that. Available: Available year round.

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Lilac: We love their fragrance...and their color. To know: Fragile with a short lifespan. Look for tight buds. Crush the stems and keep the water level high. A fleeting pleasure. Try them: in your biggest glass vase. Available: They're at their best, and last the longest, in spring.

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Lily: Drama queen. All the time. To know: The pollen stains; remove with a tissue. Stargazers and Casablancas have strong perfumes. Be warned. Try them: a single stem in a simple vase is all you need for old-fashioned glamour. Available: all year round.

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Orchid: Decorator cliche. With good reason. To know: Surprisingly hardy, they need minimal water. Good for forgetful types. Try them: Simply. In a pot. Where their sculptural beauty can shine. Available: year round. We love that they're now available everywhere. We get ours at Trader Joes.

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Peony: Voluptuous and fragrant. To know: Coax tight buds open by massaging them in warm water. Try them: In a simple vase. Let the flower do the work here. Available: In winter and late spring; spring is also a good time to plant if you have bought young container-grown plants.

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Rose: What other flower says romance better? To know: Treat buds like peonies. Crush stems slightly; cut on the diagonal under running water. Try them: casually, in a cup. Available: year round, prices peak on Feb. 14.

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Sunflowers: Van Gogh's pick. To know: Try the daisy hot water trick here. Don't forget to remove the leaves. Try them: in big bunches, in a your biggest, heaviest vase. Available: in late summer and fall, they're cheery anytime.

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Tulips: Dutch choice. To know: They bend towards the light, so make sure to turn your arrangement daily. Try them: in a vase in a complementary color. Available: Best in spring.

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