10 Valentine's Flower-Buying Tips From a Bloom-Crazy Guy
I come from a family of sweet, traditional men. My father gave my mother red roses for Valentine’s. My husband also gravitates toward bouquets of packaged red roses. I would never question that gesture. In fact, I try to encourage that sort of behavior. But a girl can dream, and sometimes when I do, I dream about flowers my husband has curated a little bit. A bouquet of hydrangeas; fat, glorious peonies tied up with twine. A fashion-y bouquet of ombre pink roses maybe. Sunflowers, daisies, anemones, there are so many beautiful options in the flora kingdom and it makes me sad that what many of us experience as a romantic bouquet involves roses flown in from distant lands, a dab of fern and a filigree of baby’s breath wrapped up in green floral paper.
In hopes of bridging the divide between the sexes about flower expectations and reality and the many options in Valentine’s flowers beyond the standards, I consulted a man heavy into flowers, Bill Prescott, who has very strong opinions about all things posy.
Of course, as Chief Flower Lover (that’s actually the title he gives me) at Stargazer Barn, Bill wants you to buy Stargazer Barn flowers, because they pay for his electricity and pork pie hats.
But his guy-in-the-know Valentine’s Day tips for flower-buying are a brilliant set of standards, truth-telling and ideas for everyone. Bill’s tips for guys (or ladies) in the dark about the best way to give flowers this Valentine’s Day are invaluable, and opened my eyes to the many ways that tortuous and convention-laden gesture of giving flowers for Valentine’s Day can become truly romantic and lovely: “They do make your life richer,” says Bill of the gift of flowers. He’s heavy into lilies “very seductive flowers” he says, so we know what Mrs. Prescott is getting this year. How concerned is Bill that you get it right this V-Day? He encourages those with questions to contact him directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill’s Top 10 Flower-Buying Tips
1. Think Beyond Red
Don’t assume that “red roses are the end all, be all flowers,” says Bill. In fact, studies have shown that most women are not big fans of red flowers. They like yellow, white, pink, all sorts of different things. Another Valentine's Day flower resource, Flower Muse is even offering up "black" tulips for the ultimate thumbed-nose to tradition.
2. If You Google Your Date, Why Not Google Your Flowers?
Flowers are romantic, and the history of some flowers is amazing. "Red tulips in ancient Persia were given to declare your love unconditionally and the black center of the tulip was said to represent the lover’s heart, burned to a coal by love’s passion,” says Bill. For guys to have a story behind the flowers rather than just run into the supermarket and grab the first thing they see can be a powerful thing, says Bill. So include a little lore about your flowers in the card that accompanies them, and impress your guy or lady friend with some intel on the flowers you’re gifting them.
3. First Date Flower Strategy
“Absolutely show up with flowers,” to a first date, says Bill. “But don’t go overboard with some crazy huge bouquet.” Some tulips or a little bunch of asters are a nice, idiosyncratic choice and you can show off your DIY skills by wrapping them in a little bit of craft paper or burlap or a little piece of cloth, recommends Bill, to show you have put some thought into it.
4. Be the Host With the Most
Having dinner at your place? Decorate with flowers. “I think a lot of guys get scared to buy flowers because they don’t know what to do with them,” says Bill. Don’t be frightened fellas. “It’s really simple: you can grab a Mason jar or use a champagne flute or an empty wine bottle, put the flowers in and they can speak for themselves.” Make your money go further and break up one large bouquet into smaller arrangements to place around the house, recommends Bill. Buy a bunch of lilies and put some on the table, put some in the bathroom, put some in the kitchen.
5. Be Bold: Ask Questions
Generally you can trust your florist to guide you, says Bill, as long as you are clear about what your vibe is. Let the person helping you buy flowers know what your personal style is so your floral gesture doesn’t come off as forced or out of character: are you the fancy type, or more of a DIY/locally grown sort of guy? Or go straight to the source and ask your lady friend, wife, mother what their favorite flower is and get them exactly what they want (if you’re really crafty, ask this in December when it will just seem like an innocent query, and jot it down for use come Valentine's).
6. Make a Flower Date
A lot of cities have a farmer’s markets or flower markets, which are an opportunity to talk to the people who grow the flowers, says Bill. Visiting these markets is a wonderful way of keeping things local and supporting the whole field-to-vase movement of knowing where your flowers come from. “You can ask your lady friend to go out flower shopping, wander around and grab some stems, and then go to lunch, hunt around in thrift stores or boutiques for a vase, and then you have to take them home to your house…” Bill trails off, knowingly.
7. Flowers on a Budget
Remember, a dozen red roses are not every girl’s dream. Even if you’re a starving college student, you can still surprise your girlfriend or boyfriend with flowers. “Tulips are such a great cost-effective flower. You can go to your average grocery store and get 10 stems for about 8 bucks,” advises Bill. “They’ve got tons of color, lots of personality and they grow in the vase.” Done.
8. Contribute to the Anti-Clutter Movement
Marilyn Monroe may have purred that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but many of us are trying to follow Marie Kondo’s mantra and cut down on clutter and accumulating more things we don’t need. Flowers are the ultimate poetic, ephemeral gesture: something gorgeous and fleeting, that perform for us and then, “when they’re done, they’re done,” affirms Bill. To the compost they go, to help grow more flowers.
9. Thinks With Your Nose
Colored lilies are big, but the scent of lilies may not always be appropriate. If you’re going to a dinner party, a heavily scented Oriental lily could even distract and interfere with the smell of the food your hosts are serving. Consider going with an L.A. (Longiflorum Asiatic) hybrid lily, that is scent-free in cases like that.
10. Be a Good Guest
If you bring flowers to a Valentine’s Day party, be proactive and hunt for a pitcher or vase or something to contain them in so that your hosts aren’t taken away from their last minute duties putting your flowers up.