, Salem, MA


February 14, 2014

North Shore Gardener: Roses are red, tomatoes will soon be, too

Thought you’d enjoy this. One of our readers sent it!

“Lettuce Be Valentines”

“You may turnip your pretty nose

When I yam near you

You may not carrot at all for me.

But please, my honeydew,

We might share the endive dreamed,

And your heart beet with mine.

Shallot not then be thyme to say

Have a happy St. Valentine’s Day!”

If you are into the old pre-Victorian flower language of love, you might have been sent a whole message with the bouquet that you received for Valentine’s Day. The Victorians loved fantasy and assigned a meaning to many varieties of flowers. So, when you sent flowers to a friend — or foe — they really meant something, and you could send a whole message with a bouquet — remember, this was long before cellphones. But be careful when you send flowers. You might not mean what your flowers are saying:

Hyacinth: It’s just a game you’re playing.

Forget-me-nots are for true love.

Primroses are for young love.

Lilac is for innocence.

Ferns are for fascination.

Daisies are for gentleness.

Be sure you speak the language, because here is where it gets very dangerous:

Tulips are a declaration of love; phlox is a proposal of marriage; and good, old tuberose is for “dangerous pleasures!” I think my favorite is garlic for courage and strength. Happy Valentine’s Day!

You will be proud to know that more than two-thirds of the roses we buy are grown right here in New England. The rest are trucked in from California and flown in from South America. I like the idea of a rose that doesn’t need a passport. You have to know it’s fresher if it’s grown in New England.

Warning: You take a huge chance when you buy any flowers, but especially roses, from street vendors during cold-weather months. They look perfect when you buy them on that icy street corner, but they turn black and mushy as they defrost in a warm room.

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