On the east coast, Valentine's Day arrives each year in the heart of the winter season, which may be why a bouquet of bright flowers is such a welcome gift. Giving flowers on Valentine's Day, especially classic red roses, has become a traditional way to declare love and passion on the day that celebrates romance.
But red roses certainly aren't the only option for this February holiday. In fact, there are a wide variety of creative flower combinations available to inspire a smile (or a kiss) and to simply say "I love you."
We asked local florists to share their expert advice for putting together unique floral arrangements that are worthy of giving to your loved one this holiday, and to offer suggestions for personalizing the standard bouquet of a dozen roses.
At Coviello Brothers, roses are the customers' flower of choice for Valentine's Day. Traditionally, "most people like them to look as big as possible," said florist Debbie Miller.
But there are other alternatives to styling these flowers. For example, you can ask for a bouquet that's "tight and sleek," or mix them with lilies for something different.
Another creative way to do roses is by simply changing their containers. According to Miller, "Different containers create a different ambiance."
The florists at Coviello Brothers can arrange your choice of flowers in a martini glass or a champagne glass, or you can bring in your own personal container, said Miller, who recalls a customer who provided a pair of shoes for his flowers and attached a note that read "Thank you for walking into my life."
"The more time you can give us, the more creative we can be!" said the florist, adding that you can include other items with your flower gift as well, such as candles, chocolate covered pretzels, gourmet fruits, and Valentine's-themed bows and balloons, all available at the Madison shop.
"We're going to change it up this year," said Robert Carr of Stahl-Del Duca Florist. This season, the Summit florist is offering Victorian arrangements done low, tight, and texturized, for a truly romantic look.
When it comes to roses, "our customers tend to appreciate colors other than red," said Carr, citing peaches and greens as striking alternatives. He suggests combining the roses in a bouquet with hydrangea, or arranging them in tight, short, compact squares. "It's much prettier," said the florist.
Stahl-Del Duca also offers a variety of orchids in several shades of pinks and burgundies which can be arranged in glass squares or mixed with other flowers for a springtime look. Mini orchids and potted orchids are also available.
At Jardiniere, owner Marlene Kurtz offered: "red tulips are a nice alternative to roses," although she said the typical dozen roses are the most popular at her store for Valentine's Day. And if you are seeking roses, the florist carries the blooms in nearly every existing color.
For a festive look, she suggests using a color scheme of purple and red and recommends mixing purple irises with red tulips. The combination is not only pretty, but also relatively inexpensive, explained the store owner.
For an exotic alternative, heart-shaped anthuriums are a good choice, as are amaryllis and orchids, said Kurtz.
At Bloom in Summit, the florists are strong advocates of mixed arrangements that are reminiscent of the springtime. This means choosing flowers that add a lot of color.
Spring is also the theme at J&M Home and Garden where their arrangements include roses in shades of lavender, pink, white, and yellow, and can be complimented with a mix of colorful daisies, lilies, and snapdragons for a bouquet bursting with lively color.
If these suggestions haven't inspired you to seek a new bouquet of flowers this Valentine's Day, do not fear. A traditional, elegant bunch of roses is just as meaningful.
But if you're looking for something new, there are endless combinations to choose from.