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A Rose Is a Rose

Valentine's flowers may speak volumes. What did yours say to you?

OK, you can call me crazy. But I have never been a big fan of roses.

Go ahead, I’ve heard it before.

Oh, I love roses growing in my garden. Their tiny closed buds and their rich red blossoms paint our front lawn with beauty, and their fragrance is as sweet and as fresh and as welcomed as the first robin in spring. (Which, going by today’s weather forecast, should arrive around Wednesday.)

But when it comes to receiving flowers, I never was a rose girl. I’m not sure why that was, exactly. Maybe it was the decadence—I mean, let’s face it, roses are expensive. And there’s really no figuring out why one rose costs more than the other. Like why, for example, Acme was selling a dozen red roses last week for $9.99, while the floral shops in Woodbury were getting four times as much. I’m sure there was some difference in the quality, but you know what they say about a rose by any other name? I’m pretty sure the same equation works for the price tag.

Or maybe it has something to do with how fraught with meaning roses can be. It’s a science, almost, to figure out just what one color rose means when it is given. Red roses, of course, are the symbol of romance and love. Not surprisingly, they are the most popular choice for most occasions. After all, they speak the loudest. More bang for the buck, doncha know?

But other roses are symbolic as well. According to ProFlowers.com, for example, yellow roses represent happiness and often say, “We’re besties.” White roses symbolize purity and new beginnings, best used for weddings or apologies. Orange roses represent passion, and are often used when the giver is saying….well, I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself.

And as for the yellow and orange swirled bouquet my youngest son was considering during his first Valentine’s Day with a girlfriend? I think they meant, “Hey, I like tie-dye. You’re OK too.”

After some fervent text messaging, he went with red roses. As did his older brother, who has had the same valentine since their sandbox days and knows what is good for him.

I’m the kind that likes to receive flowers that aren’t so knee-deep in innuendo. I’ve always liked daisies and tulips, simple reminders of affection and remembrance without having to be read deeply. Yeah, I guess I’m shallow that way. If I want to know what a flower means, I like to do it in a hands-on way, plucking one petal after the other, declaring, “He loves me, he loves me not,” as I drop it to the ground.

But I was expecting red roses. After all, they have been Scott’s flower of choice throughout our romance, despite my reminders that daisies are cheap and, with some manipulation, can always end up with the “He loves me” choice. From our dating days and right through our anniversary last month, he’s presented me with a dozen red roses at every turn.

Sure, I know I have nothing to complain about. I am very blessed to have this man who remembers each occasion (and some days that mean nothing at all) in such an extravagant way. I just wasn’t sure why he wasn’t listening to me.

Now let’s flash forward to Tuesday, Valentine’s Day. I was at work, totally focused on my spreadsheet and my reports, when I heard a voice behind me. “Happy Valentine’s Day, you,” my husband whispered.

I jumped and said,”You scared me,” before turning. And there he was, holding out a simple glass vase full of fresh daisies and red, pink and white tulips.

“Daisies and tulips,” he said. I didn’t say anything, I was that surprised. Then he hugged me and said, “See? I do listen.”

“We’ve been married 10 years,” I pointed out, and we both laughed.

Okay, so maybe some things take time. But there are no website to help us understand what our individual colors mean. We just have to learn that slowly, day by day for however many years it takes.

And in that cubicle, I hugged him back. I didn’t have to pick off petals to know what these flowers were telling me.

Steve Catando February 19, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Nice story. The reason that red roses cost more at Valentines Day is due to increased consumer demand. It's not just price gouging, the whole process costs more. The Growers have to pinch the plants after Thanksgiving. That means that they snip off rose blooms so that the plant produces additional stems in February. This leaves the Grower with less income in December. Then, due to all of the added flights to get the product into the country, the airlines have to raise their rates because these cargo flights typically fly back to Colombia and Ecuador empty. As far as why some roses are more expensive then others, you are correct, quality. The cost is affected by the variety, the length, the color and demand at the time of shipping, and the type of shipping. Example orange roses are expensive in October and November but almost worthless in December. Then, its age, typically street vendors are selling old flowers that will provide little shelf life. The retail florist remains the best place for the best varieties and freshness. You get what you pay for. Keep buying flowers, they bring cheer and hapiness to all.
Marty McIntyre February 19, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Very nice Mary...and being honest, did bring tears to my eyes !!! and like yourself, my wife would perfer carnations instead of roses, she says she likes them and they cost less....hmmm...have you two spoken..lol...I continue to send them to her often and mostly for NO reason other than to say "I Love You"....So some of us guys , even hard headed do listen...ha ha ha... But again as always, I really enjoy reading what you write, you have a way with words, if you were writing music, It would be a number one hit !!! I look forward to each and every article you write, PLEASE do not stop....Thank You
Tim Dixon February 20, 2012 at 03:48 PM
My lovely bride told me long ago that roses are fine as long as she can plant them after the holiday. We now have a rose hedge in the back yard that is 20 feet long and will grow to 5 feet high in the summer. (I once had a live, 6 foot, Granny Smith apple tree delivered to her office on her birthday) You've got a good man Mrs Lebeau..it does a brother good to know that his sister and her family are so well cared for and loved. (BTW I had robins in the yard this morning!)

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