Valentine's Day flowers

by Kate Bradbury

It's Valentine's Day on Monday. Walking past a local florist yesterday I spotted buckets of red roses, sunflowers, gerbera and irises.

Red rosesIt's Valentine's Day on Monday. Walking past a local florist yesterday I spotted buckets of red roses, sunflowers, gerbera and iris. It's incredible to think that in one of the most dreary months of the year, we can decorate our homes with such jewels of summer.

These unseasonal blooms were likely grown in far flung places such as Africa or South America and flown over to the UK. Those with fewer 'flower miles' will have been raised in giant heated greenhouses closer to home. Cut flowers are big business.

I'm reading Amy Stewart's 'Gilding the Lily' at the moment, which provides a fascinating insight into our love of flowers and the cut flower industry. Stewart describes the devotion of flower breeders and introduces us to Leslie Woodruff, who developed the first upward-facing lily, 'Star Gazer'. She also describes some of the more unpleasant consequences of the industry, including child labour, exposure to harmful chemicals and environmental damage.

Stewart champions the efforts of companies like the The Real Flower Company and Moyses Stevens, which provide decent working conditions for their growers. British flower farms are also popping up in increasing numbers, offering seasonal blooms with a lower carbon footprint to conscientious consumers. Few of them start selling flowers before March, although The Telegraph has published a list of companies offering both British and imported flowers by post.

One day I hope to be able to give my Valentine a posy of cut flowers grown by me, in my garden. That dream is a long way off - looking out this morning I spotted three unopened snowdrops and a grubby looking hellebore. Perhaps I could make a posy using blueberry stems, some clematis leaves and the sad, token blooms. It's the thought that counts, after all.

There are alternatives to giving your valentine flowers, of course. You can show your love by saving a piece of rainforest, sponsor a love nest, or, my favourite, send your loved one a mating call.

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Talkback: Valentine's Day flowers
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Gardeners' World Web User 11/02/2011 at 14:34

My aim for this year is to grow my own cut flowers as they're even getting quite expensive now too in the supermarkets. There is something very rewarding in going out and cutting your own flowers from the garden!

Gardeners' World Web User 11/02/2011 at 19:19

i'm a florist but I have a passion for gardening and growing my own flowers. during the summer months i source english grown flowers (many of which are exported to Holland to be sent back here to be sold on again!!!) as much as possible to support english growers. However it would be impossible to run my business without the Dutch imported flowers so for now i will just have to be patient!!

Gardeners' World Web User 12/02/2011 at 00:16

Does anyone know where I can 50 Blue Moon Rose blooms ?

Gardeners' World Web User 12/02/2011 at 23:37

Be the change you want to be! its down to the consumer to stop buying flowers out of season from dubious overseas sources as much as it is for the BBC and kate bradbury to use their platform more effectively to highlight malpractice. It is really not good enough to mention a book that might mention something. Where are your own thoughts about this. Plug the book why don't you, but what about your own views? Is it a case of just trying please everyone and try to offend no- one, no doubt some industry insiders who may or may not have something to do with the cut flower industry.

Gardeners' World Web User 13/02/2011 at 19:01

The true St. Valentine flower is the crocus. I went round my garden in the rain to see what bouquet I could concoct. There were lovely sprigs of Jasmine nudiflorum, pink bergenia, one Iris unguilaris, lots of Iris danfordiae, one small daffodil and hordes of snowdrops and cyclamen coum as well as Erica carnea,both white and red and, of course crocuses. I left them all to grace the garden and am sending my friends photos over the internet of my swathes of snowdrops for their Valentine treat.

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