A Valentine’s Horror Story

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When I was writing Flower Confidential, I was always looking for romantic Valentine’s Day stories on flowers that I could include in a short chapter on our most romantic holiday. But florists have a dark side of their own; they wanted to tell me horror stories instead.

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A florist in Seattle told me about the time that a man came in and said that he would like to place a standing order to have flowers sent to his wife every Friday. Florist loves standing orders because it means that they can order their highly perishable product with confidence, knowing that they have already sold it to a customer. It’s easy money.

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But that wasn’t all the man wanted. He also wanted a bouquet sent to his girlfriend every Friday.

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“We knew we shouldn’t have agreed to send flowers to the girlfriend,” the florist told me. “The first rule of adultery is this: use a different florist for every woman. But we just couldn’t resist the standing order. The money was too good. So we agreed to do it.”

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For the first year, everything was fine. A bouquet went to the wife and another went to girlfriend. The florist was happy to have such a steady customer.

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But then, Valentine’s Day came. And you can imagine how chaotic it is in a flower shop on Valentine’s Day. That’s when the unthinkable happened: the names on the cards got mixed up.

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“We sent the wife’s card to the girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s card to the wife,” the florist said. “We got three very angry phone calls that day, and we lost them all as customers.”

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Don’t let this happen to you. Using a different florist for every sweetheart is a good idea, but an even better idea is to settle down with your one true love and keep those flowers coming.

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To avoid other Valentine’s Day calamities, just remember:

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1. The goal of every florist is to run out of flowers on Valentine’s Day. Don’t wait until the last minute to order, because there might be nothing left but yellow carnations. And don’t even think about making up for it with a bouquet on February 15. As one person in the industry told me, “If it’s February 15, go buy her a diamond bracelet. You’re too late for flowers.”

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2. Don’t look cheap. Valentine’s Day is not the time to cut corners, especially if you just went out and bought yourself a new iPad after Christmas. If you’re really on a tight budget, pick the flowers up yourself to avoid delivery charges, and ask for a simple wrapped bouquet of tulips or lilies, without fillers and without a vase. They’re gorgeous, romantic, and elegant.

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3. Exposing your flowers to subfreezing temperatures will kill them just as quickly as placing them in the path of a blasting furnace. Make sure they are completely wrapped up if you take them outside, and try to find a cool place for them inside away from the fireplace and heating vents. Flowers that wilt quickly might be viewed as a metaphor for your rapidly fading affections, and you don’t want that.

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4. Match the flowers to the situation. Gerbera daisies, with their hip, pop art sensibility, are perfect for a new relationship and they don’t scream “impending marriage proposal.” If you’ve been sending flowers to your sweetheart for a decade or more, it’s time to mix it up with a potted orchid that says “I know how to keep things interesting” and “You, like these orchids, are a timeless beauty.”

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5. If your loved one buys fair trade coffee and organic apples, don’t send a bouquet that raises questions about worker rights and chemical exposure. Such issues have ruined many a romantic evening. Ask for flowers that have been certified through the VeriFlora eco-label program, or check a retailer like Whole Foods, which carries Fair Trade-certified flowers.

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–Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential

3 Comments On This Post:

February 10, 2011
2:34 pm
Diana says...

Thanks for the info, and the smile. I so enjoy the way you put words together!

February 11, 2011
2:16 am
Emma says...

I love the way you bring out the darker side of plants and gardening ;0). Thanks for the funny story!

July 31, 2012
11:34 am
Dana - Bellevue flowers says...

Great story! I also like your nod to finding out where your flowers come from, something that is often overlooked.

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