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Why are red roses associated with romance

01:00 Fri 08th Feb 2002 |

A. It goes back to Greek mythology. Aphrodite, the goddess of love of course, is said to have scratched herself on the thorns of a white rose as she rushed to comfort her lover, Adonis, and her immortal blood is meant to have stained the blooms red forevermore.

Q. Giving roses on St Valentines Day has become big business, hasn't it

A. At this time of year every High Street florist is dominated by February 14th, a trawl of the internet reveals hundreds of on-line flower sellers offering different bouquets, and, if you haven't got your act together before the day then you can usually get hold of a grotesquely over-priced red rose from a cold looking chap by the side of the road or the local service station.

In all it is estimated that something like 7 million roses will be winging their way to Valentines around the country on Thursday.

Q. But they are so expensive. Are we being ripped off

A. It is hard to think anything else when a single stem can set you back anything up to a fiver. Research has revealed price hikes of anything up to 150 per cent for red roses on or just before St Valentines Day compared with just a fortnight earlier.

Q. How can that be justified

A. Well it can't really, other than the fact that it is a free market, supply and demand and all that.

There are some mitigating factors. February is, of course, out of season for roses. Perhaps they would be cheaper if we moved St Valentines to June. This means they are all grown under glass or plastic and meticulous attention to conditions is needed so that they flower at exactly the right time.

The majority of the roses that are given in this country come from the Holland, and, as this is an international popular occasion, demand is huge.

Florists justify their prices by pointing out that the average wholesale price is around 40-70p per stem but this rises to anything up to 1.70 at this time of year.

Q. What about giving something different

A. Red roses can often be very disappointing, lacking scent and lasting barely a day or two. A survey last year showed that most women actually prefer different coloured roses, and what is the point of roses if it isn't for their heady perfume

Why not go for a mixture of seasonal fragrant flowers like hyacinths, freesias and daffodils, all widely available, instead

There are also plenty of romantic alternatives. The scented trumpet flowers of lilies are always popular and are said to symbolise beauty and purity, whereas the wonderfully showy ginger blooms are a bit more saucy, associated with dark pleasures, desire and passion.

The message would be clear if you gave a pot grown Dicentra Spectablis (Bleeding Heart), with its perfectly heart-shaped pinky red flowers, or, if your partner is a keen gardener how about of a simple packet of seeds, perhaps with a bow round it for effect, to sow in the months to come.

You could chose from Nigella (Love-in-the-mist - particularly appropriate this this time of year), Persicaria orientale (Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate) or Viola Tricolour (Love-in-idleness).

If you've got a question about your home or garden, click here.

By Tom Gard

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