OHIO VALLEY —“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a frequently referenced part of William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,” but would a rose have the same connotation without the name?
Does daisy or carnation bring the same romantic response on Valentine’s Day as the mere mention of a rose?
Roses with their soft petals and aromatic scent have long been a symbol of beauty and love. Flowers were used in the Victorian era to express feelings to loved ones. In a time when symbols were used to communicate more often than words, certain flowers had specific meanings.
This messaging system became know as “floriography,” with roses as a symbol of romantic affection. Pink roses expressed admiration or appreciation; red, passionate love; white represented purity; yellow friendship; and red and white, unity.
Today, with more color choices available than ever before, there are no rules. Many people now associate a flower or color with a special moment or event, much like the Victorians, but with a more personalized approach.
But this doesn’t mean that the top-selling flower on Valentine’s Day won’t be roses? Quite the contrary; reports say roses are still the No. 1 flower sold on Valentine’s Day:
- According to a Ipsos-Insight FloralTrends consumer tracking study, men are the top customers, most buying long-stemmed roses.
- The Society of Retail Florists estimates the number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day purchases at 240 million; the majority come from growers in California and South America — mainly Columbia.
- A survey by the National Retail Federation found 36 percent of Americans (58 percent men, 16 percent women) will buy flowers for Valentine’s Day, spending $1.9 billion — and the majority of those purchases are roses.
The journey of a rose before it reaches that special someone on Valentine’s Day has many turns. Roses are grown, harvested and packed to travel by air to all parts of the world.
Upon their arrival, they are taken to distribution centers, where they are inventoried and delivered to flower shops. When flower shops receive the roses, they must be unpacked from their icy nests, stems cut properly and placed in water that is just the right temperature to enable them to hydrate.
The containers of roses are placed in coolers until they are ready to be arranged or boxed.
Boxed roses are the quickest for florists to produce. First, the bottom stems of the roses are “stripped” of their leaves and thorns. The roses are then arranged in a box; some florists place the stems into a floral foam to keep the roses fresh for delivery.
An arrangement of roses begins with the same process. After the roses are stripped, they are placed in vases of water with greens. Baby’s breath is often added, especially on Valentine’s Day, to give the arrangement a soft, feminine touch. The final touch is a bow and a spritz of water to hydrate the arrangement.
Valentine’s Day is the largest volume day in the floral industry. Unless someone has had the opportunity to learn firsthand what this entails, it is difficult to explain. The volume of flowers and the hours that are spent by workers preparing and delivering during the short Valentine season can be overwhelming, even though most workers say they love working with flowers.
Just as each flower is different, so too is each arrangement; while there are fundamentals that are followed by designers, each have their own style when developing their floral pieces.
Amist the flurry of customers, ringing phones and delivery drivers loading arrangements, some local florists took some time to share their thoughts about the day and the work they do, even as they continued designing beautiful works of art.
Beverly Moore, of AB and T Floral and Gifts in Racine, says it has been a good this year.
“I’ve been in business five years and this is the best year yet,” she said. “We are selling everything from floral arrangements to candy bouquets.”
Inside the Pomeroy Flower Shop, owner Rosemary Eskew was busy with an arrangement of roses. Even with the cold and snow, she said business has been good. While things can get hectic, she has the support of her family. One of her sons was waiting on customers as she worked in the design area.
“Saturday is typically a busy day, and with Valentine’s Day falling on Sunday this year, well, it could be extremely busy,” she said.
In business since 1957, the crew at Francis Florist knows what to expect. But according to owner JoAnn Francis, it can still be stressful.
“I enjoy making people feel special and loved,” she said. “I think all of us working here do as well. I never get tired of flowers, even though sometimes things get stressful. I think of flowers as one of God’s most beautiful creations.”
There is much more to say about Valentine’s Day, and Cupid’s name hasn’t been mentioned, but the emphasis seems to be on roses for local shops and customers. Whether purchasing arrangements of all roses or mixed floral arrangements, it was always about the rose.
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.