Has anyone else noticed that, except for the ubiquitous three bunches of tulips for $10, cut flowers have gotten prohibitively expensive?

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My new best bud

Has anyone else noticed that, except for the ubiquitous three bunches of tulips for $10, cut flowers have gotten prohibitively expensive? I pulled out a pretty but pedestrian bouquet at a local grocery only to find it cost $60. It wouldn’t even have filled a large vase.

Which is why I’ve been driving to Madison Park for a flower fix. Best Buds, on a quiet side street, is a European-style bucket market where you can pick flower stems from buckets arranged by color. “We don’t have pre-made or pre-done, and we don’t deliver,” says Brenda Lorentzen, who has owned the shop with John Gallen and Babits Faires for 1 ½ years. They are happy to help choose, and when they find a good deal at the flower market, they pass it on to customers.

I pulled lilies, roses, snapdragons and freesia on a recent visit. Lorentzen threw in a few greens, and I ended up with a huge, fragrant extravagance for less than $20. Branches of dogwood, stems of cardoon and unusual ferns — here are all the fixings for a unique, do-it-yourself bouquet. Best Buds, 4111 E. Blaine St.

Slug it out

If slugs are riddling your hosta leaves into colander look-alikes or sliming their way up lily stems, fence out the predators with SlugsAway, an electronic slug and snail fence. This low, mesh fence, run by a 9-volt battery that should last all summer, doesn’t kill slugs, just discourages them. It repels the hungry creatures with a “mild static sensation,” undetectable to pets or humans. Unlike baits, of which I remain leery, the fence doesn’t wash away in the rain. Did you know a slug can consume several times its own body weight in a single night? That might make it worth the $40 for a fence that protects up to 32 square feet ($20 for an extension to lap around your vegetable bed). Learn more at www.contech-inc.com/products/slugsaway/.

Tour of the year

Every summer, one not-to-be-missed garden tour is slipped into the mix, and this year it’s a fundraiser for the Olmsted-designed E.B. Dunn Gardens in North Seattle.

Volunteers for the Dunn Gardens have managed to pry open the gates to the Highlands, one of the area’s most exclusive neighborhoods. Sunday, June 29, from 1:30 to 5 p.m., you can support the Dunn Gardens by joining a walking tour of three elegant Highlands estates, ranging from an intimate, modern garden to two more grand, formal properties. Background music by Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers will set the tone, and Dunn Gardens docents will be at each garden to answer questions.

The tour ends with wine and refreshments at the Dunn Gardens with curators and designers Glenn Withey and Charles Price. Donation is $100 for members, $150 for nonmembers (just for the first nonmember; for the rest of your party, the donation is $100). Call 206-362-0933 or e-mail info@dunngardens.org to make reservations.

And the award goes to . . .

Geranium ‘Rozanne,’ introduced in 2000, was crowned Perennial Plant of the Year for 2008. This violet-blue, long-blooming beauty is a ground-covering, weed-smothering wonder with its own Web page, which may be a first for a humble cranesbill (www.geraniumrozanne.com).

‘Rozanne’ flowers from late spring through November. Deer and rabbit leave it alone, yet butterflies flock to it. If its newfound notoriety makes ‘Rozanne’ hard to track down, word is that Geranium ‘Jolly Bee’ is similarly exemplary.

Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer. Her e-mail address is valeaston@comcast.net.