Why I don't want flowers this Valentine's (and not just because I grow my own!)

Why I don't want flowers this Valentine's (and not just because I grow my own!)

As a flower farmer, it is very frustrating that two biggest flower-giving days, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, are not in peak flower season. I have read that 570 tonnes of roses are imported to the UK for Valentine's day alone, because they are the archetypal romantic product, yet cannot be grown in the UK at this time of year. I would like to persuade you there are simply much more romantic options than buying roses for Valentine's day and provide some thoughtful alternatives.

Most imported roses will have come from Kenya, Ecuador and Venezuela. As flowers have such a short shelf-life, this is always by refrigerated air freight and so involves massive amounts of carbon dioxide being released. Many people are surprised to find out that 90% of British flowers are imported via the Dutch auction houses, which only adds to the flower-miles involved.

Another aspect of imported flowers that I had not appreciated until recently is the disparity between the standards of pesticides that are applied overseas and what would be considered acceptable here. Growers abroad will lose business if their product arrives in supermarket, florists or petrol-station bunches looking anything less than perfect, so they simply have to rely on fungicides to maintain the freshness of their product. Stems are dunked, flower first into the fungicide before being packaged for transport. This isn't to mention the pesticides that have been applied during the growing process to kill the insects that might damage the plant.  These products are never washed off, so whatever is applied to the plant in Kenya will still be on the blooms when you arrange them in your kitchen. Greenpeace conducted a study in 2018 that found up to 10 different pesticides in roses imported into the Netherlands.

Apart from the potential environmental issues, there is also the Roses bred for export have to have an extra-long vase life, as they have to travel such a long way. Selective breeding of varieties for export has led to flowers losing much of their scent. Many of us have experienced the disappointment of putting your face in a bunch of roses, only to find that they don't resemble to smell of a rose fresh from the garden - hardly the romantic vision you were planning for your loved one!

So, what are the alternatives to make your loved one feel special on Valentine's Day?

  • Order a voucher that they can redeem against English-grown flowers when they are in season.
  • Gift them a course so they can learn to grow and arrange their own flowers.
  • Take them on a trip to a local nursery or garden centre to buy some plants for the garden. Garden centres often have lovely tea rooms, so you can make more of an occasion with it by treating them to lunch too!
  • If you still want to buy them flowers, use the Flowers From the Farm website to source locally-grown blooms.

In case you want to read more about this, here are some interesting articles. I also highly recommend "Gilding the Lily" by Amy Stewart.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.