Bleeding Hearts: Choosing the right flowers for Valentine’s

Look beyond roses to show your sweetheart a little love

How can I stop you from buying red roses (or expecting them) on Valentine’s day? How can I shape my appeal without sounding like a harridan screaming eco-expletives from on high?

I can’t. I’m a romantic and I love the idea of love, especially coupled with flowery tropes and traditions. What’s more: I love roses – their bright musky scent, the velvet of their petals, their history in art, literature and gardens.

But I must be honest with the facts about Valentine’s roses. Red roses travel miles to Canada in February. The long-stemmed ones most commonly associated with a large heart (and wallet) come now from Ecuador or Columbia, have a carbon footprint the size of Kansas and have been grown under plastic, cut, dipped in pesticide and preservative, chilled to near freezing, boxed, flown to Miami, put on trucks, cut again, fed, conditioned and re-chilled and re-packaged at your local florist. To manage that supply chain, picking for Valentine’s day starts after Christmas, so the roses may have been out of the ground for weeks when delivered. Approximately 224 million South America roses were grown in 2013 for Valentine’s Day alone.

Frankly, I’m not feeling the love.

Once upon a time, British Columbian growers supplied greenhouse-grown red roses, but now the province has only two growers (who focus on spray roses), given they can’t compete with the imports. (An interesting note: the South American flower trade developed because of the war on drugs; in 1991 the US began supporting flower farming as an industry to wean countries from coca production for cocaine.)

Eugenia Kim of Harry’s Flowers told me her long-stemmed roses are coming from Columbia this year and are priced at $6.99 each or $84 a dozen.

So what’s a lover to do? Cue the poetry and chocolate?

Try asking your florist for eco-certified/fair trade roses or switch to local flowers. According to Alex Powell of Thorn and Thistle, a number of BC-grown flowers are available in February: hyacinths, tulips and anemones to start. Growers on the Lower Mainland also produce orchids and lilies in heated greenhouses throughout the winter.

My personal choice would be local flowering branches, available from Harry’s. Like love, they take a while to bloom. Flowering quince in the most exquisite coral pink is currently coming into bloom and forsythia, plum, and magnolia not far behind.

Branches in bud can be ‘forced’ indoors. Cut the base at an angle and smash the bottom inch or so with a hammer to facilitate the uptake of water. Place your branches in warmish water, but not in direct light.

If you receive roses this year, cut them at an angle underwater to avoid air bubbles from forming. Despite this treatment, they may droop when brought into a warm house. You can try salvaging them by dipping their freshly-cut stems into boiled water for 20 seconds, then place the roses into a vase filled with tepid water. After all they’ve been though (and all that your sweetie spent!) it’s the least you can do.

Christin Geall is an avid Oak Bay gardener and a creative non-fiction writing instructor at the University of Victoria.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Victoria police arrested a man Jan. 15 after he rammed his minivan into an occupied police vehicle. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested for ramming minivan into occupied police vehicle

Man caught after fleeing, crashing into cement retaining wall

Mayor Rob Martin and Costa Canna president Phil Floucault cut the ribbon on Colwood’s first cannabis retail store. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Cowichan Tribes’ Costa Canna cannabis store opens in Colwood

Cowichan Tribes has one-year deal to grow, sell cannabis

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read