A More Sustainable Valentine: Buy a living gift instead of cut flowers.

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Many of us give roses or other cut flowers to our valentine... but at what cost to the planet?
Fi Miles looks at the environmental impact of the valentine tradition and offers a lasting alternative.

Between 8 and 10 million cut roses will be imported to the UK this month. Most will be flown in from Kenya, Holland or Colombia, in energy intensive, refrigerated conditions so they stay fresh enough to last until the 14th. I can't shake the thought that buying millions of cut flowers which will be dead in a fortnight seems a huge environmental waste.

As for the chemicals; European regulations restrict agricultural use, but are less strict for floriculture. There are some ethical companies, growing organically, ensuring fair pay and conditions for workers, but they are a rarity. Supermarket chains offer some fair trade flowers, it is still a business. Most international growers use toxic chemicals to feed the plants and keep pests and weeds at bay to maximise yields. Many South American and African growers have poor working conditions, paying workers a pittance to tend, pick and pack roses. Holland has reputedly better working conditions, but produces Valentines and Mother's Day flowers in vast heated greenhouses, pumping out millions of tonnes of CO2.

So, What 's the alternative? — Lasting, living Roses
You could give chocolates. Montezumas 70% cocoa for me if my husband is reading this! But, as chocolates are often given with flowers, is this really an alternative? And anyway, I'm on a diet!
Just as a relationship with a well-chosen partner, will bloom and flourish if they are lovingly cared for and well tended, fed and watered; A well-chosen rose plant, if cared for, likewise, will flower all summer, year after year. A constant reminder of the thoughtfulness of the gift giver. And somehow, — don't ask me why this is — a plant, shrub or tree is a great valentine's gift for many men — but a bunch of flowers...? Tarvin's Rose Nursery C & K Jones on Barrow Lane have a great selection of roses. You can call to order and collect from the nursery by appointment.

A regular supply of cut flowers:
You need not be deprived of a bunch of flowers. Many rose plants make excellent cut flowers. For most varieties, regular cutting encourages more blooms. I have cut roses from my garden in a vase, all summer long, replacing the water every other day, adding a little sugar. I can't be in the garden all the time, so a posy in the kitchen lets me enjoy my flowers more of the time and have scent in the house. The joy doesn't end there... just lay out falling petals on a tray somewhere dry and let them gradually dry out. Choose the prettiest, sweet smelling ones for free pot-pourri.

Romantic and meaningful Rose Names:
There is a vast array of meaningful rose names. Whether it's romantic names such as "Young Love" (red floribunda), "Dreamlover" (lilac mini), "Precious Love" (Salmon pink floribunda) or "Something Special" (Pale yellow tea rose). Or a cheeky humourous name like "Hanky Panky" (a striped floribunda); There's always a rose name that has meaning to your valentine!

Scent:
Scent is often given as a Valentines gift. Roses have been used for over 150 years for their scent. Rose oil, extracted from the Damascus rose, highly valued by aromatherapists and medical herbalists, helps with anxiety, depression, inflammation, stomach problems, and menstrual issues, has antispasmodic effects, can help treat wounds, and is good for liver health. Rose oil is also said to boost libido! Its potency means that it should be well diluted — at around £10 per ml you!