Nothing cheers up a gray midwinter day like a vase of fresh flowers. Their sunny hues and bright fragrances remind us that spring is not far away. To get the most from a bouquet, choose buds that will lift spirits for at least a week (make them last even longer by cleaning the vase with bleach before arranging).
Here are some favorites, which will still be going strong after several days in a vase.
This leggy bloomer (left), covered with tiny yellow flowers, is surprisingly sturdy. In spite of its delicate looks, it can survive for a week or more after cutting. And it's one of the easiest orchid varieties to find in flower shops.
Don't discount carnations. They're common for a good reason: When fresh, they'll reward you with up to two weeks of beauty. For a lush arrangement, combine several varieties; try mixing small spray carnations with standard ones.
These cut flowers are pretty at every stage. As tight buds they're verdant and lovely, and when they blossom they're more charming still. Since the buds open gradually, remove any that are starting to turn brown and let the others shine.
Your fresh-flower budget will go far if you opt for these easy-to-find lilies. With lots of blooms on each stem, you can pinch off those that fade and rearrange the rest singly or in groups. To avoid stains, remove pollen-bearing anthers.
Another orchid that's surprisingly resilient, this variety also bears a lot of beauty on a single stem. Try to buy them when buds are still tightly closed, so they'll last longer and be more durable for transport home.
Vases, $40 to $60 each, by Astier de Villatte, from johnderian.com.