Many years ago now, I spent a good part of a year working for a florist. Valentine's Day was one of the craziest, most stressful days of the year.
Smart, organized guys ordered their roses in advance and had them delivered to their wife or girlfriend's place of business causing a flurry of excitement and a good measure of envy. Who got the roses? Oh, isn't she lucky!
The procrastinators paid for their folly by waiting in long lineups on the big day with the other anxious men, who felt they dare not show up for dinner empty handed. It didn't seem to matter that the price of roses had been inflated and was ridiculously expensive. The line of romantics stretched almost to the small shop's door.
I remember standing in the back of the shop cleaning buckets of roses by the hundred. The pressure to be fast was intense. I'd pluck a rose from the water, run down the stem with the knife on one side and down the stem on the other. The surplus leaves fell to the ground like confetti. Then it was into the long, white boxes with a few stems of fern, and if he was willing to pay extra, a handful of babies breath.
Almost always it had to be roses and the roses most certainly had to be red. Other beautiful flowers would languish in the walk-in cooler in favour of the classic red long stemmed rose.
Times have changed. These days a guy can stroll into a Walmart at the last second and walk out victorious with a bouquet of sweetheart roses for twelve dollars. The requisite expression of love- now at a bargain price.
If I sound a bit cynical, I am sorry. Part of me I resents the commercialization of this celebration of love. On the other hand, I feel that there is a certain democracy in roses anyone can afford, and even if the romantic gesture comes at the eleventh hour, it's the thought that counts, isn't it?
I really do believe in love even after thirty-plus years of marriage.
Roses in the dead of winter are such a lovely treat. If only they weren't so fleeting!
Generally the roses you buy at this time a year have travelled a long way and are weary after the miles and miles of travel. Four or five days in a vase and then they hang their heads in an exhausted slump.
One way to give Valentine's Day roses a second life is to dry them.
Drying roses is so easy to do. Gather your roses into a bunch and secure then together with a rubber band. (The stems shrink a little as they dry and rubber bands adjust to the changing size of your rose stems better than string.)
Use a loop of the elastic band to hang your roses with the flower facing down to dry.
If you are drying more than one bunch of roses, allow space between them so the air can circulate.
Depending on humidity levels, a bunch of roses may take a week or two to dry. Dried correctly, the stems of the roses will be stiff and hard. The roses should be somewhat crisp to the touch.
Roses don't dry entirely true to color. There is always a bit of a shift. Cool pink roses, for instance, become a soft mauve.
Red roses turn a burnt shade of burgundy.
White roses become cream, and then more beige as they age.
Yellow roses become a beige shade as well.
Coral or orange roses turn peach.
As you might expect, multicolored roses turn an interesting mix of shades.
Dried roses are nice just as they are. You can also take the petals and make a sachet, fill a jar or even make a wreath.
I took a dozen sweetheart roses and made a wreath. You can find instructions over on the home page of the blog.
Happy Valentine's Day!