Behind the scenes for Valentine's Day

Neill Strain shares some surprising facts about Red Roses to help you choose the finest gift for Valentine's Day.

Paris is blooming !  Not on the cold, grey streets of the city but on the chic catwalks and in the exhibition halls...  I've just returned from a week of French fashion and design enjoying previews of the new collections for Spring/Summer 2015 where extraordinary blooms and plants were the focus more than I've ever seen before - at the Paris Couture Week and the iconic Maison&Objet exhibition for interiors.  I'm feeling inspired to write about the romance and beauty of Valentine's Day,  yet there are so many interesting facts about our Red Roses to share...

Floral highlights from designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Viktor & Rolf during Paris Couture week

Ironically, the winter months of January and February are the most difficult months of the year to grow Roses in Holland and yet the week prior to Valentine's Day is the time when more Red Roses are sold at the Dutch Auctions than any other week of the year.  Literally millions of Red Roses from Holland, Kenya and South America are sold and sent out across the globe to charm and seduce lovers wishing to express their emotions with flowers.

There are dozens of different varieties of Red Roses available.  The breeders in Holland are always trying to create new varieties even more perfect than those already in production.  This was the case with the breeder Schreurs who created about 9 years ago a new variety called "Red Naomi" which is now considered the "best" Red Rose.  Schreurs works with 21 different growers who  are today producing the exquisite "Red Naomi" Rose in 800,000 square meters of dedicated glasshouses across the Netherlands.

Among these 21 growers, there are some who stand out from the rest.  One of these is our grower, Van der Drift, whose 40,000 square meter glasshouse is a sanctuary to "Red Naomi,"  equipped with every machine and technique to grow this magnificent Rose to its very highest quality.  Van der Drift collect their own freshly fallen rainwater for watering the Roses; they heat the glasshouse at night to a higher temperature than most growers and use a special coloured, high-powered assimilation light for longer hours to increase the plants' photosynthesis, enabling the plant to produce food  that makes the blooms bigger, the stems stronger and guarantee a longer vase life.  The selection process is judicious : each Rose must be perfect in form and shape; once picked, each flower is measured and distributed into bunches of equal sized heads, up to 14 cm wide and 75 petals !   20 hours of chilled conditioning also increases the vase-life.  When these Roses arrive within 24 hours of picking at our boutique, they are absolutely divine in immaculate condition. 

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So why is this Rose so wonderful?  So much better than the others?  I remember about 10 years ago when the favourite was "Grand Prix," but all that has changed.  "Red Naomi" is now the star.  It has a slight scent; its vase life is 10 to 14 days, its head size is one of the largest; long sturdy stems of up to 90 cms...  A true pleasure for a florist to work with and for clients to enjoy.   

For Valentine's Day, all our Red Roses are "Red Naomi" as only the best will do.

For Valentine's Day, all our Red Roses are "Red Naomi" as only the best will do.

We are able to guarantee the freshness of our "Red Naomi" Roses because we order them in advance from our grower, they are picked especially for us and sent over to London to our boutique the same day.  Of course, with the demand so high for Red Roses at this time the prices rocket to much higher prices than the rest of the year.  As such, some growers and wholesalers hold back their picked Red Roses in cold rooms for 2 or 3 weeks and then sell them at the higher price.  As these Roses are not fresh, their vase life will be very short and a huge disappointment.  

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Although our Valentine's floral arrangements will last many days, we have another Valentine's floral gift that will last much longer...  "Flowers for the Year" starts with a bouquet of our glorious "Red Naomi" Roses to celebrate Valentine's Day, but thereafter, every week or every month (as you prefer) we will deliver a bouquet of seasonal flowers according to any theme or colour scheme of your choice.  This way, the romance and passion of Valentine's Day can be celebrated throughout the year with flowers that are bewitchingly beautiful and sensuous for all seasons !

For those amateurs of our petite Floral Couture arrangements, we have our special Valentine's collection  for 2015.  Ideal for an office desk, bed-side table or any small space and available in many colours and textures.  

For those wishing to express their love and passion in a more intimate manner, we also offer a Valentine’s Floral Home Styling service.  We will transform your home into a world of floral romance, with Red Roses and Rose petals styled to decorate every and any room in the house.  

Last, but not least, our gigantic Floral Heart that has become a landmark in Belgravia for Valentine's Day, is decorating the entrance to our Boutique and awaiting lovers who wish to take their photograph in a fairy-tale, romantic setting.

Whatever your wishes are for celebrating love this Valentine’s, please pop by the Boutique and walk into a world of floral magic designed to seduce the senses,  or give us a call and we can create an arrangement with flowers that will express your very personal message to your very special loved one.  

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all,

Florally yours,

Neill x

Neill Strain Floral Couture at The Flower Lounge, 11 West Halkin Street in Belgravia.  Tel: 020 7235 6469

Carmen Rose

Carmen Rose