Jen Henderson is a journalist breaking news in the capital region. She is a staff reporter at the St. Albert Gazette and  covers provincial and federal politics, crime and court. 

Florists arrange bouquets for Valentine's Day

Florists arrange bouquets for Valentine's Day

Flowers are the foolproof gift to buy for a loved one on Valentine’s Day.

The romantic holiday may conjure up images of arrangements of long-stemmed red roses, and the association with bouquets makes the day one of the busiest of the year for local florists.

“Our Mother’s Day is pretty close to it but it’s a week long, whereas Valentine’s is just two days,” said Theresa Hansen, owner of St. Albert’s Klondyke Flowers.

While Mother’s Day tends to be celebrated throughout the entire week, Valentine’s Day deliveries happen during the holiday and the day before, Hansen said.

When Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday, the shop makes even more deliveries as they have to deliver to homes and workplaces.

This year, the holiday falls on a Tuesday and Hansen said that both Monday and Tuesday will be busy delivery days.

“A lot of men like to deliver to their sweetheart or wives at work,” Hansen said.

Hansen estimates they will send out from 300 to 400 bouquets over the two days this year.

Arrangements will be made by hand a few days before the celebration by the staff at the shop. All hands will be on deck as the day approaches. The staff can’t make up the bouquets too early as they want the flowers to be fresh for the special day. At Klondyke Flowers, a staff of seven or eight will work during the days leading up to Tuesday’s holiday to build the beautiful arrangements.

Flower shops across the city will be preparing with fresh shipments of flowers from across the world. Lilies, orchids, and tulips are becoming increasingly popular to give as a romantic gift every year. The flowers will be chosen to either replace or complement red roses.

Red roses will travel from around the world to make it to St. Albert in time for Valentine’s Day. Russia is known for producing long-stemmed roses, while South America ships the majority of the red roses.

The roses arriving at Klondyle Flowers will be primarily brought in from Bogota, Columbia, where they will be grown in greenhouses. It only takes about four days between the time the flowers are cut to the time they arrive in the shops in St. Albert.

The roses are cut in Columbia and by the next day they will arrive in Miami. It takes another two days for the roses to be trucked up to Canada to be distributed to florists so they can get to work.

When the flowers are cut, they are cooled and kept at the same temperature, between 38 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit during their entire trip. This helps preserve the flowers in their fresh-cut state and prevents them from blossoming during the journey.

“When we get them we give them a fresh cut and they start to hydrate and it’s just like they were cut yesterday,” Hansen said. “They are nice and fresh.”

Lilies and tulips will be shipped in by wholesalers from the Vancouver area on the Canadian West Coast and from California.

Although red roses are the traditional Valentine’s Day flower, many shoppers are mixing multiple blossoms into their bouquets because of the high cost of roses. Around Valentine’s Day the price of roses climbs from 200 per cent to 250 per cent higher than during the rest of the year.

This sharp jump is due to the high demand created by the romantic holiday.

Hansen said the best way to avoid paying sky high prices for a bouquet is to include a variety of flowers.

Lilies, tulips and orchids are all very popular to mix with roses to create a custom floral arrangement during this time of year.

“For the value, they are a beautiful arrangement and still have their roses but get a nice variety as well,” Hansen said. “Red of course, but pinks and purples as well.”

For the most part, Hansen said shoppers enjoy seeing a variety of flowers and colours in their bouquets rather than the traditional monotone dozen long-stemmed roses. Arrangements with bright colours with tropical or spring flowers are becoming more popular.

Bryan Saunders, marketing manager at Hole’s Greenhouses said a great way to make flowers last longer is to buy a potted plant, such as an orchid, rather than a traditional arrangement.

If you want to stick with roses, they don’t have to be just red.

Holes is stocking a black rose for the first time for Valentine’s Day. The rose isn’t dyed but rather is bred to be an extremely dark red colour until it looks black.

“It’s something a little bit different and a little bit unconventional,” Saunders said.

No matter what you are ordering, the trick is to order early to ensure your favourite flowers are still in stock for the big day.

Along with ordering early, Saunders recommends being creative with the arrangements.

“It shows a little bit of creativity when the guy does something a little bit different – whether it’s the black roses or the orchids – it shows that he put some thought into it.”

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