Passions: Fresh flowers for Valentine's Day would be lovely, though they make me feel guilty - Gaby Soutar

If only they’d last a bit longer than a few days
Bunch of peoniesBunch of peonies
Bunch of peonies

It’s highly unlikely that I’ll be given flowers on Valentine’s Day.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I really love them, but he has been instructed not to buy any.

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They’re just so expensive and I find it hard to be gifted something, only then to have to watch it die. It’s like being presented with an ice sculpture, or something equally ephemeral. It just makes me feel bad, as I snip their stems and stick them in the only vase we own.

I absolutely detest fake plants, so, to try to combat my sad sense of real flower transience, my other half did once buy me a bouquet of dried ones, back when they were very trendy. It was a lovely bunch, with red protea and eucalyptus, but they didn’t quite provide the same soul-lifting effect, or scent, as the living ones do. Still, I held onto them for years, and only recently binned them, when they began to fade and I got sick of dusting their jaggy petals.

The last time I got real flowers was probably about 20 years ago.

I remember him bringing them up the stone stairs to an old flat on Edinburgh’s London Road.

I thought, sheesh, he’s gone all romantic and formal on me. I wasn’t sure whether to curtsy or call him ‘kind sir’, when he handed over the bunch.

They were fat peonies in the same shade as Chanel’s Rouge Noir nail-varnish (you know, the stuff that Uma Thurman wore in Pulp Fiction), all parcelled in rustic brown paper and string.

I could ask for a posy of them again, perhaps in the same shade, or the more usual and equally gorgeous hue of blancmange pink, but they’re not in season until April.

If I was to choose something sooner, I’d want those gorgeous tulips with the frilly edges. I especially adore the striped versions of those. I think they’re called Parrot Tulips, and they remind me of raspberry ripple ice-cream. When I see them in buckets outside flower shops, I swoon.

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I’ve never really been into funereal and stinky lilies, dull daffodils or roses. If someone bought me a dozen red ones, I’d just think that was a bit of a cliche. Same with cop-out carnations, especially the horrible blue or rainbow-coloured versions, which just scream I-bought-this-in-the-local-garage.

I prefer a thistle, or something sculptural, like a hydrangea, irises, ranunculus or dahlias, which look like they’re made of origami paper.

I’ll probably feel a bit guilty if he sees this column, and a bunch of those favourites does unexpectedly appear on Valentine’s Day.

At least they would make me extremely happy, for the four or so days of their remaining existence.



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