Best Flowers - 2005
The San Francisco Flower Mart
640 Brannan (at Sixth Street), 392-7944, www.sfflmart.com
In the early morning, this block-long market does a bustling wholesale trade; after 10 a.m., it's open to the public. But despite the crowds, there's an eerie small-town, Twilight Zone vibe that's tough to shake, what with the quaint main street, the corner coffee shop, the pleasant storefronts, each one identical, each one selling -- this town sells nothing but flowers! You half expect to stumble upon sod-based aliens incubating under compost. Although most people come for the plants and cut flowers, we like to seek out the unusual, such as the torch ginger at Silver Terrace and the pineapple plants and bleeding hearts at Passanisi Greenhouse Plus. Our current favorites are the orchids at McLellan Botanicals. On a recent visit we found a table full of $12 perfect yellow Phalaenopsises and bizarre stems reminiscent of The Orchid Thief, such as the mothlike cross Clair de Lun x Macabre Wings, clearly bred to scare children. Hippies take note: The psychedelic Pansy Face looks just like your T-shirt.