Create the perfect Valentine's Day bouquet with these helpful tips.
Perhaps a minor detail, but February 14 once honoured fifth-century Christian martyrs. Today, Valentine’s Day has become a celebration of love—for everyone. And it’s glorious to express that feeling with flowers.
With worldwide shipping, there’s no need now to be in Provence to buy fragrant cut lavender stems. Or even a whole lavender plant. Pop into a local florist—or search the web—and proclaim your love with blooms from anywhere on Earth. If candy should become an essential component of your gift, you can even request an arrangement with chocolate included.
Valentine’s Day bouquets may feature a single kind of flower, perhaps in contrasting colours, or combinations of blooms the arranger feels are complementary.
“Be sure to include black calla lilies,” advises Jeff Leatham, artistic director of Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris. “They add a mysterious touch, and are really long-lasting.
“[And] don’t forget red roses,” he says. “For Valentine’s Day we use them throughout the Hotel’s lobby and bar. We also give them away.” Pink and fuchsia roses are also part of the mix.
“Now, too, women give flowers to men,” notes Leatham. In that case, he suggests blooms in “really dark colours—especially deep purples.”
Beyond the Rose
Early bloomers ideal for colourful Valentine’s bouquets include crocus, daffodils, tulips, violets, iris and hyacinth. Daring florists will also offer fritillaria, jack-in-the-pulpit, sweet pea and hellebore. Be on the lookout, too, for cut branches of forsythia, quince, pussy willow, cherry and even blackberry.
Flowering plants make especially enchanting Valentine’s gifts, and they last a lot longer than cut blooms—especially if the recipient has a green thumb. Potted orchids, for example, are available in countless exotic flower shapes and colours.
Also delightful are azaleas. These small flowering shrubs bloom in shades of red, pink and white, and are especially brilliant gifts when trained to the whimsical lollipop shape called a standard. Standards of rosemary or gardenia are intoxicatingly fragrant, and they may last years on a sunny windowsill.
An alternative to colourful arrangements? Look for pineapple plants—your florist may stock one of the more usual species.
Preserve Your Love Buds
Remind your florist to include a preservative with your bouquet, suggests Sarantos Karalis, the longtime manager at The Windsor Florist Shop in New York. They routinely include small packets of an American-made preservative called Floralife or a Dutch product called Chrysal. One packet per vase, in water changed regularly, and cut flowers remain fresh for many days.