3 weeks to Valentine’s

It occurred to me that today is exactly 3 weeks before Valentine’s Day.  I never got the whole “I must prove my love on this one day of the year” idea: if you truly love someone, then every day should be Valentine’s Day – and Christmas, and Mother’s Day, and so on (please note I’m not advocating extravagant gifts for every day.)  We’ve moved way past the small token of esteem gifts to holidays based on guilt:  if you miss one of those crucial holidays, chances are you’ll get thumped by someone important in your life. 

I think I’m a bit more cynical than most people about holidays like this.  After all, I used to be a florist.  And let me tell you, Valentine’s Day for a florist is not about sweetness and love in the least!   In fact, florists will probably hate me for saying this, but V-Day is the absolute worst day of the year to buy flowers.  Quality goes down, prices go way up, and a stressed and hassled florist doesn’t help the creative process.

I should add that while florists may seem to be the “bad guy” in this holiday, in my experience the higher prices are not their fault.  V-Day runs a fine line between making a small profit and actually losing money because of the wholesaler prices, hiring extra help, and trying to keep hundreds of roses fresh in a cooler that doesn’t magically expand to fit them.  When it comes to supply and demand, forcing 2-3 weeks worth of orders into one day is a recipe for chaos.

I have not-so-fond memories of spending hours on my feet stripping roses – because no self-respecting florist sends out roses with thorns on them – staying up until 2 and 3 in the morning and coming back to work at 8am to do more prep work.  Rose thorns have this nasty habit of causing infected wounds when they scratch you – and some of those rose varieties have massive thorns that will gouge your skin instead of scratch it.

Funnily enough, despite holidays that stick in my memory like a rotting carnation stem, I still love flowers.  Tulips like this one, exotic tropical curiosities, and my personal favorite, spray roses (small bunches of tiny roses on a long stem.)  As an added bonus, they’re fun to photograph.

So, if you’re planning a romantic Valentine’s Day, here’s a few tips from a former florist:  

1. Plan early.  Order your flowers 3-4 days ahead of time (longer if you want something besides red roses,) and if you can, have the florist send them a day early.  They’ll love you for this.   

2. If you want a bag of rose petals, buy a few short stemmed roses and rip them apart.  Better yet, go get the fake ones from a craft store – they don’t stain carpet and sheets when you step on them.  Nothing is less romantic than trying to clean up crushed rose petals: they’re as bad as lipstick.   

3. If you want to avoid the rose dilemma, buy some spring bulbs in a pot.  They’ll last a lot longer than roses.

4. And above all else, do NOT walk into a florist on Valentine’s Day and ask for something really weird.

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