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"Valentine’s Day is just around the corner," by the Whistling Gardener

Traditionally speaking, Valentine’s Day is the “Christmas” season for florists, whereas Mother’s Day belongs to the garden centers. However, not being one to follow tradition, I am going to take this space to help you stretch the envelope, so to speak.
Valentine’s Day Living Roses. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

Traditionally speaking, Valentine’s Day is the “Christmas” season for florists, whereas Mother’s Day belongs to the garden centers. However, not being one to follow tradition, I am going to take this space to help you stretch the envelope, so to speak.

Here are some suggestions, not to replace cut flowers - because I love to have cut flowers in the house anytime of the year - but rather to augment the traditional, thoughtful gift with something less ephemeral that will show your undying love for many years to come.

If it helps, just think of some of these ideas as merely “cut flowers with roots.

“Love”, of course, is the common thread that ties all of these ideas together….

Roses are the first “cut flower with roots” that come to mind, as there are oodles of them with “love” in their names. “Love at First Sight” is a new hybrid tea for 2020 with flowers of red and white, a fruity fragrance and good disease resistance.

“Love’s Promise” is a sassy bright currant-red colored hybrid tea with strong raspberry fragrance.

For a “steamier” effect, try “Mercury Rising” which sports flowers of medium pink and ivory cream with a mild fragrance, or “Smokin’ Hot” that has dark orange with purple overlay colored flowers.

Burst of Jo” sends an upbeat message to your true love with its vibrant orange and highlights of yellow floribunda flowers that have a light tea perfume.

“State of Grace,” “Double Delight,” and “Life of the Party” will all convey your steadfast devotion for many years to come.

Maybe you are looking for a smaller option, something for a friend, or an add-on to a gift you already found… try a packet of seeds! “Love in the Mist” is an easy-to-grow annual with delicate foliage that is topped with powder blue to dark indigo blue flowers all summer long - it makes a great cut flower for summer bouquets. The seed pods are intriguing so they work well in an everlasting arrangement and it will reseed itself, allowing it to come back every year (again, a tribute to your relationship).

Love Lies Bleeding” is another easy-to-grow annual, a beautiful plant but I find the name a bit morose. Its dramatic foliage is followed by long drooping panicles of deep crimson purple flowers in late summer - this plant makes a statement in the garden!

Or, if you are feeling a bit self-absorbed, give your loved one a packet of “Forget Me Not” seeds. When sown in a cool, moist location, they will bloom soft blue flowers with a yellow center early in the season and will happily spread through your garden in a few short seasons - which is a polite way of saying they are borderline invasive and obnoxious, which could end up being either a positive or negative reminder of your significant other.

Finally, my all-time favorite perennial “Bleeding Heart” is a winner any time of the year! There are several variations, but the one I can’t live without is called “Gold Heart.” It sports golden foliage in early spring, topped with long wands of pink heart-shaped flowers in March and April. Plant it in a shaded or woodland area and it will come back twice the size the following season.

There are plenty of other out-of-the-box, living plant, gift options - all with the goal to give your loved one a thoughtful, long-lasting token of your appreciation and love. So, for this Valentine’s Day, forget tradition and move out of your comfort zone by trying some of these “cut flowers with roots” ideas. They will reward you richly for years to come rather than one short week or two.

Sunnyside Nursery will be hosting two free classes next weekend, “Hellebores: Winter Jewels” on Saturday, February 15, 2020, at 10:00 am; and “Spring Invaders” on Sunday, February 16th, at 11:00 am. For more information, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and you can send your gardening questions to him at info@sunnysidenursery.net.

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