Valentine’s Day Ideas

If you’ve got to this blog post via my Instagram page, you’ll know by now that I’m a lover of the day of love but not so keen on some of the traditional gifts – in particular, red roses. Most roses at this time of year come from far flung places across the globe like Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya. Sadly the conditions they are picked in aren’t great either. There are mostly female workers (and their children) picking blooms in very warm weather with very little by way of breaks, meaning they don’t get much chance to rest after the back breaking work. Pay is not of a fair rate either in many occasions. All of that before I even mention the carbon footprint of your rose that came from Africa.

Have I convinced you yet that red roses at this time of year is not a good idea? If you want to read more about it, there’s a New York Times article that goes into much more details, but be warned it’s a tough read. There’s also a similar one from The Independent focused on the environmental impact.

I must caveat that not all overseas flower growers have unethical business models and fair trade roses are on the up now. If you do want to buy roses out of season, why not ask where they came from. And I am certainly not suggesting you boycott your local friendly florist, maybe just go for one of the alternatives I suggest below.

Hopefully I have convinced you and you’ve decided you’d like an alternative for V Day – I applaud you for that decision. We can’t change the world overnight but we can make some little changes that make a difference in our world. The more of us that make these decisions and speak up about them, the more people that will follow.

“But Nicole, my significant other insists on buying me something for Valentine’s Day so what should I do?”, I hear you cry. Well, my friends, here I am with some suggestions for alternatives that will make you very happy indeed. This is totally not sponsored by anyone, or an ad, just recommendations for things that I would love to receive instead of the traditional red roses. Of course, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to mean presents, I’m just as happy with a takeaway and movie night instead of an extravagant gift 🙂

  • Seeds! Even a cheap supermarket bunch of roses would come in at about £20 and just think how many packets of seeds you could get for that. At this time of year you can plant hardy annuals, with half hardy annuals up shortly. Some of my favourites are:
    • Cosmos – Purity, Psyche White, Snowpuff, Rose Bonbon
    • Sunflowers – Magic Roundabout, Ms Mars, Ruby Eclipse
    • Sweet Peas – Windsor, Our Harry, Piggy Sue, Anniversary, Almost Black, Blue Velvet, Aphrodite
    • Snapdragons – Chantilly White, Pink and Bronze, and any of the Madame Butterfly selection
    • Nigella – African Bride, Delft Blue
    • All kinds of pansies
    • Strawflowers
    • Amaranthus – Hot Biscuits, Coral Fountain, Velvet Curtains
    • Carnations – any of the Chaubaud variety like La France, Benigna, Jeanne Dionis or Orange Sherbert
    • Zinnias – Green Lime, Zinderella Lilac, Sprite Mix

Dahlia Tubers: Although not yet ready for delivery, you could ask for some dahlia tubers. A much loved flower by all gardeners, tubers are due to be despatched soon! I’ll put a list of my favourites on stories too but you really can’t go wrong with a beautiful Café Au Lait or the absolute workhorse Linda’s Baby which will mean you have flowers all summer long, not just for a couple of weeks in February. You can pick these up from a variety of places such as Sarah Raven, Crocus, J Parker, even Wilkos or B&Q sell a selection!

Some garden tools or equipment: a new trowel from Burgeon & Ball or some of my favourite gloves from Sarah Raven are sure to go down a treat with any gardener.

Photo from sophieconran.com
  • A print: if your significant other is not a gardener but still loves flowers, how about a floral print for a wall or dressing table ? I’m not being paid to say this but my husband has done an illustration of my allotment in full bloom which would make a lovely gift. Go visit him on Instagram @tomlairdillustration and DM him to order it! If you tell him I sent you there might even be a little discount in it for you!

  • Tulips: And if you *must* have flowers, think local and go for tulips from the UK or Europe! Now is prime time for these beautiful spring blooms. Flowers grown in the UK have less of a carbon footprint and pickers are paid a fair wage. Smith and Munson are local to me in Spalding, Lincolnshire and supply lots of florists around the UK. I’m hoping to visit their farm soon too so look our for a blog posts.

Other flowers: There are other seasonal beauties just coming into season now like anemones and ranunculus – many of which come from Holland.

  • A flower book: Erin from Floret Farm is releasing her new book for Valentine’s Day and is an absolutely beauty. A Year in Flowers is available on Amazon for pre-order or directly from her website/other good book retailers. I also love her first book, Cut Flower Garden.

And one last suggestion which is not directly flower related but is linked for me as she’s my pal when I’m down at the allotment. For those of you that don’t know, our dog Sophie is a rescue. Now I’m certainly not expecting you to go and adopt a dog but you could donate the money that would have been spent on roses to a dog shelter. Our local one is the Animal Helpline in Wansford but they are everywhere and if you don’t have a local one, or prefer cats, Battersea does an amazing job of caring for their furry lodgers. Just £10 could mean a new warm dog bed or £5 a treat pack for a dog or cat.

Hopefully one of my suggestions has tickled your fancy enough for you to forward this onto your loved one as a hint, or you’ve got some ideas for a little gift for your beloved.

This is my first time doing a gift guide so I’d love to know what you think!

Nicole x

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