For most people, the only time they step foot in a flower shop is when there's a wedding, funeral or first date in the near future. Flowers can be more than a pretty but soon forgotten item bought more for their ceremonial purpose than natural splendor. Flowers can also transform any living space with their lively colors, sweet fragrance and natural beauty.
"I have flowers in my home all the time," says Darin Lenhardt, floral designer for Birmingham floral shop Blossoms. "I mean, if I have anywhere from one person to 30 people coming over, there are flowers in every room. Even when I was doing construction on our new home, there were flowers in all the rooms.
"They bring such life and energy and happiness. How can you feel sad when you're looking at something that's living and so uniquely beautiful?"
It's hard to argue that flowers aren't uniquely beautiful. But with a few thousand options available, trying to find the petals that speak to you is a thorny proposition. Perhaps something simple and elegant like Darin's favorite, the classic white orchid (phalaenopsis cultivar), might be right.
"Phalaenopsis orchids are my favorite flowers in the world," Lenhardt says. "They're so simple and clean-looking."
Although orchids are stunning flowers, there's more than one bud, bouquet or arrangement that will get the job done. It's all about finding the look that works for your budget, tastes and needs.
An easy way to get started is checking out the latest trends. For winter, look to cylindrical glass vases and arrangements with multiples of the same flower (mono-floral arrangements).
"Maybe three vases down your dining room table with a hydrangea in each," Lenhardt suggests. "It doesn't always have to be a super arranged look. Even just the simple four lilies for fragrance next to your bed is a stunning look."
Their stunning looks can also add a bit of texture to the room, also a big trend in floral design.
"I love all foliage arrangements where it's all different types of greens: ivy, eucalyptus, pods, green dream or green dianthus, which has kind of a moss look to it," he says. "Where it's not so much only about fragrance, it's about texture and feeling."
Carnations (dianthus caryophyllus) are one flower that will add color and texture to any room. They are also very budget-friendly. While they may not get the same adoration as an orchid, lily or rose, Lenhardt thinks that this is one member of the dianthus genus that may require a second look.
"Sometimes I feel like carnations get a bad rap," Lenhardt says. "I mean, they're a beautiful flower, just (depends on) the way that you use them. If you use them in a mono-floral design, you can get an entire bunch of carnations and mound them in a vase to almost make them look like a hydrangea. It's going to have a longevity; it's going to be beautiful."
The trends aren't all about simple and clean. There's also meadow bunching or grouping of several different flowers in a wildflower-like display. It's a trend that's great for something a bit more organic and natural or daringly colorful.
According to Lenhardt, these "mass groupings of flowers (are) put together in a way that really brings boldness through the type of flower because you're going to have four different colors of flowers. It's really going to be visually pleasing and bold, which is always a good statement."
Although flowers can do wonders to help any home, knowing what to get in a pinch will go far. Lenhardt offered up some great examples of arrangements for life's various ups and breakdowns:
When meeting your partner's parents for the first time, "a mixture of roses and hydrangeas, spray roses and maybe Queen Anne's lace because they're a little older and a little bit more traditional. In soft colors like light blue, white, a soft yellow, peach and then always a soft green."
When breaking up with Taylor Swift, "I would give a meadow look. Right now, I would do all Michigan garden flowers."
After denting your boyfriend's car, "I would do mokara orchids and three bold colors like red, orange, yellow or red, orange, purple."
When asking your parents for money, "Ooh, green and white! It's the color of money."
When in doubt, Lenhardt emphatically suggests picking up an arrangement of green and white.
"If you're ever looking for a fresh bouquet to give to someone, the best color combination is green and white," he says. "No matter what colors you have in your house, white and green is the freshest look that you can go for."