For Bloom Day, Heather and Lavender –
and some Serious Bashing of Cut Roses


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Okay, we’re just going to mush this month’s Garden Blogger Bloom Day together with Valentine’s Day, okay?  Only one day off~!  And yesterday I happened upon these lovely offerings at my favorite indie garden center – a heather on the left and a lavender on the right.  Both look awfully romantic to me – at least as romantic as cut flowers and much more sensible because they can be popped in the ground as soon as it thaws.

I’ve never grown them myself, though, and wonder how well they do here in the Mid-Atlantic Humidity Belt (when it’s not the Mid-Atlantic Blizzard Belt).  Let me guess – the secret is good drainage, right?


The Skinny on Cut Roses isn’t Pretty

On the other hand, here’s what most guys bought for their sweethearts.  And it isn’t just Amy who’s spreading the word about all the chemicals and worker abuse that go into the growing of these fragrance-free items.  Global-food-justice expert Raj Patel posted an expose yesterday called O Rose, Thou Art Sick, and here’s a killer excerpt:

The question is whether locking rural people into producing fripperies
for the rich is the best way of doing it. And that’s precisely what one
does when one promotes the pesticide-soaked jet-sent cut flowers
industry, whether in its rapacious Dole-shaped form, or its more
guilt-friendly ‘VeriFlora’ form.

He goes on to bash our guilt-assuaging notions of “fair trade” and ends with this:

This Valentines, remember to say it with potted plants.

Photos taken at Homestead Gardens.


  1. 50 years ago we had a family owned local nursury that was famous for its cut roses. Shipped them everywhere, had huge green houses. Employed many people. Even had a rose they came up with. Can’t remember the name. It has been defunct for years. I would be happier with the cut flower industry if it was still here, stateside.

  2. That’s why I enjoy my local farmer’s market for cut flowers. There are several sustainable farms that come to the market with vegetables AND cut flowers that grew alongside the veggies.

    There are also some suspect flower folks at the market, too. It ALWAYS pays to ask the vendor where the flowers/ veggies were grown, and how.

    Some people who come to farm markets just pick up produce from other growers. It depends on the rules and regulations of the individual market.

  3. If you’ve ever traveled along Hwy 46 in CA, you’ve driven through the rose growing capital of the US. Wasco. Or so I was led to believe when I watched California’s Gold on PBS last week. I’ve never been really big on cut roses myself, that aside.

    Me and the dood tend to give each other potted lavenders. I think we’re up to six cultivars at this point, and speaking of lavender, he ended up having to plant a few branches of Lavandula viridis yesterday after yanking the weeds that were choking that plant in the side yard. Here’s hoping they take!

  4. I learned a lot about the cut flower trade that I’d never thought about when I attended Amy’s talk on Flower Confidential in Palm Beach last week.

    It was fun to meet up with Amy and the weather was gorgeous! And with apologies to all those covered in with snow, I posted photos on my website.

  5. That Heather is impossibly romantic. As for roses, they are boring besides the pesticides and everything else.

    The flower industry is taking notice of the anger, as evidenced by the sticker on one bouquet of flowers I got yesterday that said “sustainably grown.” Whaaat? It offered no other details, as if a sticker makes everything ok. Who knows, maybe it does.

  6. Less than two decades ago here in Southern California it wasn’t hard to buy locally-grown pesticide-drenched roses, but now the option has pretty much morphed into internationally-grown pesticide-drenched roses. Yeah. Time to give roses a pass.

  7. My sweetie gave me a winter daphne for Valentine’s Day. It smells fabulous, and I will think of him every time see it.

    Locally grown tulips would have been nice as well. We have several bulb growing areas around here.

  8. I told my husband long ago to NEVER buy me cut roses! I’d much rather have a nursery gift-certificate any day! Or, if he needs to buy something ‘pretty’ to PLEASE make it a potted plant! Great post!

  9. Hi everyone, nothing beats the scent of lavendar. We have several growing in our east rock garden with lots of drainage and full sun – the plants seem pretty happy there and have been established for many years. A beautiful choice for a gift – brought some small potted lavendar plants as gifts for friends I was meeting for dinner – they loved them!

  10. Here in Portland, those buying roses should request Peterkort roses, grown in beautiful Hillsboro, Oregon. Peterkort is the last of the once vast number of cut rose growers hereabouts. No, the stems aren’t as sturdy as those grown at the equator, and the buds aren’t as big, but they are local, and no one had to have a miscarriage because of the chemicals sprayed on them.

  11. Winter daphne likes to be dry. Don’t hardly water it. Plant it high with it’s top knarly roots exposed.
    Heather looks good for a day as table decor.
    Local fresh chocolate truffles with some berries mixed in tastes

  12. I have a relative who insists on sending me roses for my birthday every year even though it makes me feel terrible to receive them. This year they came all the way from Africa. I haven’t figured out a polite way to stop her yet. Any ideas?

  13. I’ve killed 2 heather plants so far (one in the ground and one in a large container) and I think I’ve given up trying. Lavender loves my containers though. However, I didn’t bring the one marked tender perennial into the basement to winter as I should have, so I supsect it might not come back. Good luck with your heather!

  14. I saw a real interesting program on cut flowers in Africa. One place had a completely carbon neutral flower growing “factory” for want of a better word. Their workers all seemed happy and despite air-freighting the products to Europe, their carbon footprint was less than European produced flowers that were produced in a non-carbon neutral environment. The factory used volcanic thermal energy to provide a perfectly controlled environment for their flowers.

  15. I saw that same PBS program on Rwanda and was also impressed with their growing methods. Interestingly, the workers were being paid fair wages and I wish we could offer the lower/middle class housing options for workers here in the states like they showed in that program. Who knew that a country that had been so ravaged could make such an about face. I might even consider buying cut roses again if I were sure they were coming from there.

  16. The whole rose industry in South America (as is the banana industry)is fed by the demand from Americans for cheap products. If people did not stop buying the US grown cut flowers but opted for the slave labor grown SA roses one would still have farmers growing beautiful cut flowers in the US.
    Similarly I am often amazed when Americans complain about the cost of fresh produce in the Caribbean, saying how its so much cheaper in the US. I point out to them that is the real cost of production, plus the farmer’s profit, you really can’t produce a banana for 10 cents and still make a decent living!

  17. The best Valentine roses I ever received came in the form of a dozen rose plants. That was years ago & the roses, hopefully, are still alive in our tiny Richmond, CA rental house from over a decade ago.

    Today, please no roses for me — to plant or display. I’d much rather have a huckleberry bush. Perhaps the way to a gardening gal’s heart is through her berry sweet belly.

  18. I can’t remember the last time my hubby gave me cut flowers. And that’s ok. I got my own chocolate this year, but told him he could get me a gift cert. to the local plant nursery, if he wanted to get me something. (Of course, he says, “Go get what you want.” Ahh, the romance! But at least I do get what I want that way!

  19. I knew I’d find something to ‘prove’ to my husband why I told him (last year) to please don’t give me cut roses/flowers for special occasions. Of course, I received them from him (again) this year. When I mentioned it in passing, he got pissed off. I’m sending him this link. I’ll include his email address here so ya’ll can help me make the point.

  20. I don’t know much about the floral industry, but I’ve always exaggerated my allergies to discourage Hubby from paying the ridiculous markup on roses for Valentine’s day. I mean really, they’re five times more than any other time of year, just because roses are the expected display of affection. Society has brainwashed us to feel unloved without cut roses. Now that I have a garden, we’ve started a new tradition of a Valentine’s day IOU for a live rosebush at planting time. It satisfies the inner gardener, bargain lover (a good rosebush is less than half the cost of Valentine’s day roses), and romantic. The roses in the garden will make it Valentine’s day any day they are in bloom or being tended or even just seen in passing.

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