BEST FLORIST (1999)
Six stops into our rounds of Twin Cities flower shops, the suspicion hit us that some false advertising was afoot. If you happen to be in search of plastic swags, metallic balloons, or pseudo-Victorian cherubim, there are dozens of so-called florists who'll suit your needs. And the fake silk flowers! You could stuff a mall with them. Here in our neck of the garden, precious few businesses make it their exclusive mission to supply the petal-loving public with authentic flora. The best among them is Roger Beck Florist, formerly housed in the Conservatory downtown (R.I.P.), now adjacent to the stunningly renovated Van Dusen mansion in South Minneapolis. We arrived just as a shipment of fresh Ecuadoran roses, with blossoms as big as fists, were being roused from their slumber and dethorned on the staging tables in back; the Sterling 95s glowed like abalone shells and the terra cottas like sun-drenched adobe. At $3.50 a stem, these beauties are a steal--singly, by the dozen, or done up in one of Beck's artful bouquets. The spacious walk-in cooler's stock, which changes daily, was loaded with giant callas, Oriental and Asiatic lilies, French parrot tulips, Hawaiian king protea, and asters galore. The wreaths of dried flowers adorning the walls--hydrangea, amaranth, you name it--would surely send Martha Stewart to her untimely grave, and the menagerie of exotics lining the sills, all in bloom, looked like something straight out of Seuss. In early spring they've got potted crocus and hyacinth, forced branches of pussy willow, forsythia, and quince; by summer, every shade of gladiola under the sun. Beck's arrangements start at $30 for an elegant few-stems-and-a-sprig, and run up to a small fortune for a bucket of orchids. Count on adding about seven or eight dollars for delivery anywhere in the metro.