Valentine’s Day Roses And Embarassments

Shrub roses with red splashed flowers
Shrub rose

Whatever our feelings about Saint Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to ignore. We all know we should let our sweethearts know that we love them all year round, even when they are walking mud into the house, let’s say, or leaving jam on the fridge door.

For those of us who find it hard to express our affection every day, Valentine’s Day can be a good thing. For those of us who get a sweet little extra something we appreciate, it’s a good thing. For people who sell cards, chocolates, flowers and meals, it’s definitely a good thing.

I’ve never been wildly keen on the day, perhaps due to several embarrassments it has occasioned.

At school, a fake Valentine’s Day card ostensibly from me was sent to a boy I was not fond of who demonstrated great disgust on receiving it. That’s when I first realised the day might not be all it was cracked up to be.

Rosa 'Darcey Bussell' - a crimson English rose
Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell’

In my teens, I received a Valentine’s card from Anon who described himself as “Alone and palely loitering”, which idea filled me more with a vague horror than romance (sorry Keats). The card sender was prescient as I proved to have no mercy, persuading my reluctant Dad to assure him I was not interested when he called to press his suit. My suitor was using information he accessed through his work in a way that would be illegal now, if it was not then.

Weirdly, I had known who he was all along and had sensed a couple of times that he was following me. That experience cemented my belief that nothing good would come of an anonymous approach.

Rosa mundi - the striped rose
Rosa mundi

A decade or so later, a splendid but anonymous bouquet was delivered to my office. I assumed it was from my then boyfriend (which it was not) and rang to thank him enthusiastically for it, saying how beautiful it was. Whether to display or not display the now problematical flowers became a minor issue. The subsequent year another splendid, anonymous bouquet was delivered to my work. I confessed to the same boyfriend I had got another bouquet, insisting that I did not want it, and explaining that I had given it to a female colleague, to find out it had been from him this time.

And that’s just the years I remember.

Rosa 'Boscobel' - a pink English rose
Rosa ‘Boscobel’

My sweetheart and I have a more comfortable understanding. We do not give each other flowers, but we plant flowers and we enjoy many beautiful gardens together. We hide hearts for the other to find and point out any natural hearts we see. Valentine’s Day, if we are together which sadly this year, we are not, means we will most likely not be able to get a peaceful seat in our favourite restaurant, so will leave it a couple of days before making the attempt. We’ll most likely send each other some token but if we do not, no harm is done.

Valentine’s Day obviously works for many people and if it works for you, I’m happy it does. I’m a romantic at heart despite all I say here. If you have a sweetheart close to hand, please give him or her an extra squeeze or kiss today for the sake of all us others whose sweethearts are far from home.

Roses and perennials at Rosemoor Garden
Roses and perennials at Rosemoor Garden

Wherever you are, and whoever you are with or not with, I hope you’ll enjoy these virtual roses.

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