February 5, 2005
Red roses, be warned — the long stemmed standbys no longer have a monopoly on Valentine’s Day.
Tulips, orchids and lilies are popping up in flower arrangements for Cupid’s special day.
And roses are being revamped into shorter pavé arrangements with an assortment of brightly colored roses instead of a stereotypical sea of blood-red bulbs.
"It’s $125 for a dozen red roses," says Dennis Thompson, co-owner of White House Interiors & Flowers in Scottsdale. "But for $125 in mixed flowers you can get a beautiful, full, lush arrangement instead of bulbs that have been kept in a fridge for two weeks. And we don’t do baby’s breath, leather roses, mums or carnations."
Valentine’s arrangements may be getting a modern update — due in part to raised wholesale prices for roses around the holiday and to people’s evolving floral tastes — but that doesn’t mean that flowers are becoming cliché like chocolates.
Johanna Davis, event coordinator for White House, says women and men want flowers throughout the year, and even more on Valentine’s Day.
"Everyone secretly wants them," Davis says, noting that most men prefer simple arrangements that could be brought to the office. "It’s a splurge, so it’s not something you get every day. It’s special."
Thompson recommends ordering arrangements as far ahead as possible, especially if a specific flower is needed. His staff will special-order such requests, but the closer it gets to Valentine’s Day, the more customers need to be flexible about the flowers, their cost (at least $75 for a medium-sized arrangement) and a delivery time.
Many men, he says, wander in a few days before Valentine’s Day and ask for a dozen long-stemmed roses, even though they’ve often been refrigerated for several weeks and can only last a couple of days in Arizona’s dry climate.
That’s when Thompson bombards them with questions like, "What’s your wife’s favorite color?" or, if that’s met by a blank stare, "What color does she decorate with the most?"
With some investigation, Thompson says he usually discovers a mix of flowers that will fit a woman’s personality and decor better than roses — and last much longer.
"I like very rich colors and bright assortments," says Brian Traham, co-owner and floral designer at White House. "They just make you feel better than just plain red."
But with all the attention customers must give to selecting the right arrangement, Thompson says many people forget the most important part of the present: The card.
"Give the card a little more energy," he says. "It shouldn’t be an afterthought."