So it’s that time of year again, Valentine’s Day, when the colours red and pink take over every shop you walk into, in a celebration of love and romance. I once lived in a town where even the local hardware store covered it’s shop windows in red and pink hearts. I’m not sure whether it just felt left out but I half expected to see a sign inside saying ‘Nothing Says I love You More Than a Cordless Drill’.
Of course, it’s flowers or more specifically, red roses that are still the number one choice of gift for a loved one on Valentine’s Day. The red rose has long been the symbol for love and billions are sold around the world on the 14th February. The deep red, velvety roses are beautiful but I was reading Anna Pavord’s The Curious Gardener recently about her experiences in Ecuador at the flower farms there and it made me wonder whether there was an alternative to the now ubiquitous red rose.
In order to supply the ever increasing demand across the globe Valentine’s Day roses are grown intensively in South America and Africa using chemicals that are banned in Europe, with little attention paid to Health and Safety, causing pollution to the local area and health problems for the workers. The crops are often grown in places where there is the need for irrigation, using up limited water resources and then flown thousands of miles around the world to their final destination. Ethically, red roses get a big thumbs down. You can read more about imported flowers in my previous post about British Cut Flowers.
It got me to thinking about why the rose has become the gift of choice. In the days running up to 14th February you can’t get stirred for dark red roses and the prices charged are eye-watering. When I asked Wellyman what he thought about flowers for Valentine’s Day, he said that a dozen red roses are seen as the done thing, that’s what all women want. But I’m not quite sure where this idea started. Does it really say ‘I love you’ if you and millions of others purchased exactly the same thing? Or does it say ‘I believe this is what global consumerism tells me I am supposed to buy you today’?
So what are the alternatives? Even in February it is possible to get flowers that have been grown in Britain. This is the peak time for daffodils from Cornwall. Cornish Country Flowers for instance, sell 60 stems of daffodils for £16 that will be delivered to your door. How many red roses would you get for £16 and just imagine the house full to the brim of daffodils? The Flower Farm also sell a range of Cornish daffodils which includes a selection of scented Narcissi. Tregothnan Estate, again in Cornwall, have a range of beautiful British grown Valentine’s Bouquets for delivery. It’s also coming into the British tulip season with some stunning colours available from most florists.
So, Wellyman if you’re reading this it’s seasonal, British flowers for me. That should be a bit kinder on the bank balance, too.