Valentine’s Day comes around each year, with the promise of blossoming love, candlelit dinners and romantic gestures that bring a bit of brightness to this grey season. The roots of St Valentine’s Day aren’t as warm and cosy though – it’s named after the 3rd-century Roman priest Valentinus, who was executed on February 14th. It is thought that towards the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelantis declared this day St. Valentine’s Day to honour the martyred Valentinus and to draw attention from the Pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia, which happened annually around the same time of year.
Almost 1,000 years later, the medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer declared St. Valentine’s Day to be related to the mating of birds, and so the undertones of fertility and romance persist to this day. Each year, the shops fill with loveheart-emblazoned cards, pink glittery knick-knacks and foil-wrapped chocolates in rich reds. In florists, supermarkets and even petrol stations up and down the country, bouquets of roses stand ready to be delivered into the arms of lovers. In fact, it’s estimated that 43% of all fresh cut flowers given as gifts on Valentine’s Day are roses. And who could question this?! They’re beautiful. However, in this dreary and grey season roses aren’t that easy to come by, so growing and transporting them sustainably is an issue faced by UK retailers.
Maybe this year, you could consider finding an alternative bloom or plant to gift to your loved one instead? The fact is, most flowers have historic traditions and meanings associated with them – so with a bit of research, you could find something that’s really meaningful and unusual. Here, I’ll share some of my favourite romantic plants.
Tulips for Valentine’s Day
The Victorians believed tulips to represent ‘perfect love’ – so aren’t they the perfect choice? They’re also
relatively seasonal and grown all across the world, so wherever you are you should be able to pick some up. Red tulips represent true love and devotion, whilst yellow tulips represent happiness and sunshine.
Variegated tulips – possibly the most beautiful – stand for beautiful eyes. Send a coded message with tulips!
Chrysanthemums for Valentine’s Day
Chrysanthemums are really striking, and long-lasting too. These flowers symbolise fidelity, optimism and joy, and a red chrysanthemum stands for true love. Choose white for truth and loyalty, or a mixture if you’d like to go all in! A bouquet of chrysanthemums will stay in bloom to be enjoyed for much longer than roses.
Orchids for Valentine’s Day
Orchids come in all manner of shapes, sizes and colours, and their flamboyant blooms have long been thought to represent beauty, luxury and strength. The Ancient Greeks associated them with virility and fertility, making them a Valentine’s Day gift that’s thoughtful and a touch cheeky! If well cared for, orchids will usually bloom year after year – will your love stand the test of time too?
String of hearts for Valentine’s Day
Bear with me on this one – admittedly, this tumbling houseplant isn’t the average Valentine’s Day choice. But who wants average?! Look closely, and you’ll see the tiny delicate leaves of string of hearts are very aptly named – they’re heart-shaped! Paired with a simple plant hanger, it makes a really beautiful house decoration that shows real consideration. These plants are easy to care for, and as a succulent vine they don’t need much watering. Come the summertime, your loved one will likely witness loads of growth in the trailing fronds and maybe even a delicate, funnel-shaped flower or two!
Even if you’re not celebrating romantic love this Valentine’s Day, I hope you have a lovely one. And remember to tell your loved ones you care every day of the year!