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Decoding the language of flowers

Colors, styles can express quite a bit
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal features editor
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A little bloom says a lot. With Valentine’s Day just hours away, the pressure’s on to convey your affections with all sorts of gifts. And for many romantics, nothing says “I love/like/have the hots for you” like flowers. “Roses are definitely the first choice — red roses,” said Lana Shevchenko, owner of Bryan’s Florist in Auburn. “I guess it’s just always been that way. It’s tradition, and it just keeps going that way.” Shevchenko and her crew have been hard at work all week cleaning, cutting and arranging all sorts of floral valentines. While roses are consistently at the top of the list, they’re not the only flowers ordered this time of year. “Mixed arrangements do OK on Valentine’s Day too,” Shevchenko said. “Tulips are not the biggest hit, but they’re nice. Carnations are good because they last forever.” What does it mean to give the gift of flowers? “Flowers are actually the sexual part of the plant,” said Shawna Martinez, a botanist at Sierra College. “My take on it is, ‘Here, I’m going to give you the sexual part of these plants.’ That’s the scientific explanation.” Those wanting to save some green on flowers have some options. Some are better than others, Martinez said. “I highly recommend not picking wildflowers,” she said. “If you have a backyard, I would pick a bouquet from the backyard.” Martinez also prefers something with roots. “When my husband wants to give me flowers, I ask him to give me something living, something that will last through the ages,” she said. Lisa Baehr, owner of Auburn Blooms, also suggests live plants as gifts. “They’ll send something home that they can plant and will bloom year after year,” she said. Orchids make nice gifts, Martinez said, as do bulb plants such as tulips and daffodils, because they can be replanted. A note on daffodils — these charming yellow signs of spring represent joy and happiness, “but you have to have them in a bunch because a single one represents misfortune,” Martinez said. Those on a budget should also consider a single rose, Baehr said. Or go for a stargazer lily. “They’re large and they smell pretty and they last a long time,” Baehr said. “One flower is the size of a salad plate.” Color selection is something to consider too. Baehr orders a lot of pink, red, white and purple flowers this time of year. Red roses represent love, while pink sends a sweetheart message, she said. White roses represent purity, yellow roses represent friendship, and orange and peach blooms convey passion. No matter the color, the best advice is to know which flowers will yield the biggest smile from your sweetheart. “I pry it out of them — what’s her favorite color? What’s her favorite flower?” Baehr said. “It’s really nice when they care about their other half and not just how (it makes them) look.”