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Please correct me if I've erred, but I believe that John Pasternak sent the bouquet of tulips in Season 3, Episode 6, Claire Underwood, who herself asks the same question as that in the question title above. The posts in this IMDB.com thread don't appear conclusive.

In Season 3, Episode 6, a bouquet of tulips were bestowed on Claire Underwood by the husband of Michael Corrigan (characterised by actor Christian Carmargo), the imprisoned gay rights activist who had earlier committed suicide in his cell (while Claire was sleeping, after she chose to remain with him). Claire then asks an assistant:
'How did he know that I like tulips'? I also wish to know; so I relay her question here.

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I don't think you will find a conclusive answer as it wasn't explained, so we can only speculate.

Claire may have mentioned it in an interview throughout her (or rather Frank's) career and Pasternak found this information somewhere. Maybe he was able to reach someone who knew her well enough to know. Even the Doug theory from the IMDB thread you mentioned is plausible, although I doubt it's true.

That said I think it is more important why it was shown that he knew instead of how did he knew. In my opinion there are two reasons:

  • The writers wanted to show us how grateful Pasternak was to Claire for what she did in Moscow. If it were just any flowers it wouldn't have the same effect.
  • It was a nice way to connect this scene with the next scene, were Frank is showing his and Claire's first house to Yates:

There's tulips buried under here. Claire planted them.

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