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A Florist-Eye View of Valentine's Day

Late nights and intriguing stories surround the rose-saturated holiday.

Like the local bartender, this time of year florists learn to just take customers’ orders and keep their mouths shut.

Floral shop owners have seen it all: the customer who paid in cash and ordered for three different women at once; or the man who ordered for both his boyfriend and girlfriend.

One florist, who requested anonymity, recalled the scenario of a woman having an affair with a married man who called and ordered flowers for the man’s wife on behalf of the husband. (But he paid.)

At the end of the day, most customers are men who want to express their love for someone special in their lives.

“We often see younger guys buying flowers for their girlfriends for the first time,” said Rachel Sharon of . “They are a little naïve and are just so sweet.”

Mike Orlowski, longtime owner of recalls an extraordinary Valentine’s Day — it happened a few years ago. A very romantic guy ordered 200 red roses for a woman for whom he hoped to make a good impression. The flowers were arranged in foam in a huge container and sent to the woman’s place of work. All the roses were real, except for one artificial one. Here’s what the card said: “I will love you until the last rose dies!”

Unfortunately, said Orlowski, the gift (which cost almost $8,000), didn’t work. “I heard she didn’t go for him,” he said.

While mostly it’s men who buy flowers for romantic reasons, sometimes women use the occasion to demonstrate their love to mothers, daughters, friends, and significant others. Some women even treat themselves on Valentine’s Day, according to the website, www.aboutflowers.com.

"It’s great to see people still value flowers and the value of gift-giving,” said Timothy Snelgrove, owner of . “Today, flowers are about fragrance, color and passion. Why do we give flowers? We do it because we love the person and want to express our passion to our significant person.”

“There’s a euphoria about getting flowers that feels like nothing else.”

By the Numbers

According to the Society of American Florists, Valentine’s Day ranks as the No. 1 holiday for fresh flower purchases in a single day. Florists net an average of 25-30 percent of their annual revenues on this holiday. Forty-two percent of all consumers buy red roses as a symbol of love and romance.

This year, Dave Haworth of has ordered 3,000 red roses in preparation for the traditional Valentine’s Day expression of passion.

“Red roses are the most popular flower for Valentine’s Day,” noted Haworth, who said he expects to sell virtually all the roses he ordered.

“Sometimes people splurge and buy two dozen roses or roses and orchids,” added Rachel Sharon, floral designer at Flowers ‘n Such in Granby.

Snelgrove's in Windsor has ordered 5,000 red roses this year — believing the economy has improved and hoping for more sales because this year Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday. (When the holiday falls on a Sunday, said several florists interviewed, sales tend to be down.)

At , floral designer Chancey Laden said red roses are still their top seller, but tulips seem to be popular this year.

“Tulips remind people of spring,” said Laden, who added that tulips in pinks, reds and purples sell well, along with other spring flowers such as lilies and gerber daisies.

Moscarillo’s offers a unique Valentine’s Day floral arrangement — what Laden describes as “European gardens” — flowering plants (red, pink or white flowers) in a basket decorated in a Valentine’s Day theme. Arrangements sell from $35-$100, she said. Also popular are Abdullah chocolates, which Laden said are “high-end chocolates from Minnesota.”

The days leading up to Valentine’s Day tend to be “crazy busy” at flower shops. Many florists need to hire extra help just to keep up.

"We get ready the entire week before and bring in a few extra people to help in our small shop,” said Sharon of Flowers ‘n Such in Granby.

“We have some late nights and bring in extra help,” said Haworth, whose shop has been a family business for 106 years.

Snelgrove, who is not only the chief floral designer, but also the chocolatier for the sweets he sells in his shop, said he gets very busy in the days just before Valentine’s Day. He ends up sleeping only a few hours each night. He adds extra drivers to help deliver his best seller, the “Expressions of Love” package. For $151.95, the package includes a dozen red roses in a vase, six chocolate-covered strawberries, a bag of rose petals, balloons and a full-sized teddy bear.

Florists say placing your Valentine’s Day order early is a good idea. That day, most business is walk-in, said Orlowski of Park Hill Joyce Flower Shop in Manchester, and phones are ringing off the hook. Orlowski suggests not only ordering early but “don’t be afraid to have flowers sent a day or two earlier."

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