“Happy Valentine’s Day! And if this is news to you, my guess is you’re probably alone. Valentine’s Day is often times a, well, it’s a manufactured day that really doesn’t mean anything.”
My husband feels the same way. He says it’s a made up holiday and it’s all about making men feel bad and coaxing them into buying perishable flowers and sweets that won’t even last a week.
What’s wrong with him?
Doesn’t he realize that perishable flowers pay the bills in our industry and they are not a waste?
Americans just don’t think the way Europeans do when it comes to giving perishable flowers and plants as gifts. The only place I see a lot of cut flowers for sale is in New York City. There are more cut flowers at the local corner grocery in any given New York City village than there are anywhere else in the US.
Europeans buy fresh flowers and cash and carry (translate into enjoy for a few weeks and then throw away) plants every week. Talk about repeat sales. Do most Americans buy plants in garden centers or flower shops on a weekly basis?
I bet not.
They do in Europe. It’s a part of life. For some reason, we Americans have been conditioned to think that killing plants is a bad thing. Even if it is a throw away miniature rose that never had a chance, we feel badly when we “kill” it, even though it was bred to bloom and then to die. The more they die, the more they buy, right?
Get over it America…it’s OK to kill plants. Well, some plants, that is.
Some companies try to sell the plants found in the “gift” plant section at the grocery as “gift to garden”, putting even more pressure on the people receiving the gift because then, if they kill it, it is all their fault because the tag and the marketing says it’s supposed to live.
Try telling that to a person living in a dark house, with no natural light, who receives this plant for Valentine’s Day. In most parts of the US, they would have to keep a mini rose or some other gift plant alive for the next two to three months with no sunlight.
That’s a lot to ask of anyone. Even I would kill it and I have grow lights.
So, they kill it and then they feel bad. After a little therapy, they might try again, but they feel so much pressure to keep them alive. Why do we put so much pressure on our customers?
These plants were grown very quickly, and most likely the grower put two or three plants in each pot to make it look fuller. This is a recipe for disaster in the garden, should it ever make it there. The pants will crowd themselves out of good light and compete for root space in the pot on your patio.
So here’s my advice and my new mission because I think fresh cut flowers and gift plants are so cool and so important during the dark, dreary months of winter:
Let them die!
Teach your customers it’s OK to let them die. Sadly, they’ll use a plastic baggie in their lunch, barely get it dirty and have no qualms about throwing it in the trash – we need to teach them to do the same (after they enjoy the beautiful flowers, of course) with gift plants.
Now, I’m not talking about plants that were meant to be houseplants. They can and should be grown on forever, but please teach the customers to repot them and separate the plants in the dish gardens? If I go into one more house months after a funeral or baby is born, and see an over watered, overcrowded dish garden, I think I’ll puke. Trust me when I say I’ve repotted many…
Consumers have no idea that the cute little dish garden arrangement containing five or six houseplants, each capable of growing to three feet tall by three feet wide, can’t survive in a 12” dish forever.
Anyway, I digress…
What I really wanted to talk about was the cool things that are available as gift plants and as gifts in general that I saw this weekend on my weekly Whole Foods (or whole paycheck as we call it) shopping adventure.
There was a wall of colorful (not just pink) blooming hydrangeas in bright, bubble gum pink wrappers as I walked in the door. Hydrangeas have come a long way and the ones they are selling now as gift plants are simply stunning. I wouldn’t advise planting most of these outdoors unless you live in a mild climate. They are floral crops, after all. They are grown to be enjoyed for a few weeks and then tossed, kind of like a poinsettia. You might be able to get away with an entire season in the ground or in a patio container, but I’m betting most of what’s being sold are not hardy.
Sadly, there weren’t any other exciting gift plants. A few pink cala lilies, gerber daisies in multiple shades of pink, orchids, and of course, mini roses. How about some Valentine’s Day cactus for people you don’t like? I crack myself up…
As I walked further into the store I noticed an entire section in the front, almost like a gift wrapping station at the mall during the holidays. They had a table where you could “gift wrap” your newly purchased bouquet. This way, you could buy several bunches of any type of flowers, even mix and match, and they would arrange them for you and wrap them all up in pretty paper and ribbons for your sweetie.
Since I didn’t purchase flowers for my sweetie (remember, he doesn’t believe in Valentine’s Day, so why should I waste my money? Haha!), I’m not sure if this was a free service. Here’s a picture of the station.
There was an entire refrigerated case filled with boxes of roses and boxed rose petals for lovers to spread as confetti – what a way to reuse and recycle. Way to use the trash, make it sexy and attractive.
In that same case, further up on the shelves were large boxes of strawberries and many kinds of spray whipped cream. They also had chocolate covered strawberries. Now, that’s my kind of gift – a tub of strawberries and a can of whipped cream. Seriously, that would keep me busy for hours ; )
The sign above the case read “Love to Go”. That theme was prevalent throughout the store. They were making it easy for busy men and women to run in and grab gifts and go. It was a really nice display.
They had stuff all over the store and it was easily recognizable as gifts for Valentine’s Day because every section had a sign saying Love to Go. They carried the theme throughout in many clever ways.
They had a section of soaps and bath stuffs in the shape of sweet treats. I was drawn to the cupcake soaps. I have a weakness for cupcakes, so I was an easy draw, but I thought they were cute, priced nicely at a few dollars and they smelled good enough to eat.
I also loved the mixed bouquets. Whole Foods always does a nice job and they say all of their flowers are fairly grown, which is nice for us Earth conscious types. They incorporated orange into the pinks and reds and they used lots and lots of St. John’s wort (Hypericum sp.) berries. I love those. They last for such a long time.
Will anyone get a hydrangea or a cyclamen or other blooming pot-o-fun?
I’m sure most will get some sort of chocolates. Even I managed to talk my sweetie into buying me a Whole Food’s whoppie pie. If you’ve never had one, it’s like two chocolate cupcake tops with a glob of homemade butter cream icing in between.
Pure heaven for a cupcake lover.
If you got a flowering potted plant, will you be sad when it dies or was this e-letter just enough therapy to allow you to see that it served its purpose and when the time comes, allow you to let it go?
Go buy another one for St. Patrick’s day and then again for Easter. It’s fun and you can try new and clever things. They are always coming up with new things. I don’t much care for the gigantic single mums in a pot with googley eyes, but to each his/her own, right?
Lastly, as many of you know, I adore and collect gnomes from all over the world when I travel. I’m sure it’s no surprise to many of you that I drug my family out on Friday night to see the new animated movie, Gnomeo and Juliete.
It was awesomely cute. It’s Shakespeare for kids, so I’m not sure the youngsters are going to like it much, but they did a great job of telling a truly familiar story with highly unsuspecting characters.
There’s no dying in cartoons, so the ending was altered. I’m not going to give it away, but I will tell you, it ends in matrignomie. Haha! I love that!
I’ve decided I need gnomes with blue hats and maybe some girls. For some reason, I only have one gnome with a blue hat. All have red hats. If they made some girls with regular sized bottoms – not the hugest in the world, I’d love one. The exploiting of the female rear end in gnome culture is disturbing to me. Afterall, they work hard in the garden, they should have taught, lovely buttocks.
Sir Elton John was a huge part of this movie. They even remade the song Crocodile Rock, which is one of my most favorite songs from my childhood (showing my age now, aren’t I?) Click here to see the new video version of Crocodile Rock. This is also a trailer to the movie.
It was cleverly cute and it proves gnomes do silly things like have lawn mower races in the alley with the gnomes of your neighbor. Here’s a video game of the lawn mower race, called Gnomeo Kart. Thanks to Keegan, my eight-year-old son for finding this. It’s cool… Go Blue!
Go see the movie. It will make you smile! And have a very happy Valentine’s Day.
President, Plants Nouveau
PS – just for the heck of it… Juliet (monologue):
“Oh Gnomeo, oh Gnomeo, are we really doomed to never see each other again?
Why must you wear a blue hat?
Why couldn’t it be red like my father’s?
Or green like a leprechaun?
Or purple like, um… like, uh… like some weird guy?
I mean, what’s in a Gnome?
Because you’re blue my father sees red, and because I’m red, I’m feeling blue.”
PPS – If you are looking for a brightly colored, unusual plant to add to your perennial or cash and carry gift line – look no further. We have a new campanula from AB-Cultivars that was bred for both.
Campanula ‘Freya’ is a glomerata type hybrid with vigor, many, many flowering stems, a short, compact stature and a totally vibrant, indigo blue bloom that will last for at least a month indoors.
This new selection was bred by Arie Blom in The Netherlands and is being produced in the US as a perennial and gift plant and in Denmark and The Netherlands as a grocery store item for the cash and carry market. Sample liners are available now and stage III tissue culture is coming this spring. Let me know if you’d like to give this blue beauty a try.