A Valentine’s Day Perspective From The Other Side

My first entry into working in a plant and flower world was a flower stand. I was 20 years old. I owned it. I operated it. I knew every square inch of that tiny, windy shack. And just as I would be sweeping away the pine needles and bits of Christmas ribbon, Valentine’s Day would creep up like a big red monster. I started the annual phone calls to growers for roses by the dozen, wholesalers for vases, tiny cards with envelopes, plastic picks, glittery hearts on a stick. You get the picture.

Red Roses. Long-stemmed Red Roses. Red Roses with babies breath.  Getting up at 5 AM to place orders for FTD deliveries back east. Hoping our local crop of beauties didn’t get wiped out by rain.

For an entire month, my life consisted of roses, ribbons and order forms. Hiring temporary staff for deliveries. Hoping they didn’t get lost and ruin any profits.  Imagine three months’ worth of business compressed into a few days. Was a pocketful of cash worth this stress?

The week of Valentine’s Day we created the Strategic Command Center, basically every square foot of space I could use to store delivery roses. My garage. My bedroom. My neighbor’s garage. My living room. It would be a week of frantic phone calls from sometimes desperate men and order slips falling out of my pockets.

I slept little those days. If I hadn’t been so darned stressed it would have been beautiful to see, a crimson tide of mass-produced “Dozen Roses.” The scent everywhere. The Scooby-Doo band-aids on every finger from wicked thorn bites. These were the days before rooftop gardens, green walls and living architecture.

Now Valentine’s Day comes a bit slower, almost strolling along after New Year’s. Now, red hearts no longer send me into the antacid aisle at the drug store. I take pleasure wandering through the warehouse looking at plantscaping projects being put together. And our designers happily creating beautiful orchid arrangements for corporate clients.

And now I can take as long as I want to create something beautiful for my sweetie.