Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Meaning of Roses & Valentine’s Traditions

a bouquet of peach roses

Hello, fellow lovers of all things green,

Do you recall Valentine’s Day traditions as a kid having to bring cards to school? It was an assignment. An obligation. One for each classmate. Cards came in assortment packs and while the sayings were mostly about friendliness, which isn’t a bad thing, connotations of romance were sometimes there. How awkward it felt.

Valentine card assortments for kids haven’t changed much, based on a collection I came across the other day.

“You’re a Bear-y nice Valentine (a bear holding a heart).

“I dig you” (a skunk holding a heart).

a birds eye view of a boquet of red roses

Red = I Love You

a birdseye view of a boquet of yellow roses

Yellow = Admiration

As an adult, Valentine’s Day’s melancholy remains because it’s commercially driven, though the history as a day honoring the early saint named Valentinus is fascinating. Credit goes to English poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century for shifting the association of Saint Valentine’s Day to romantic love, a connotation that spread across countries and religions.

What rose colors mean:

I remember incoming flowers when working in an office eons ago amongst other twenty-something-year-olds. It became a competition almost.

Receivers proudly displayed their bounty on their desks, as if touting that their somebody loved them more than another’s somebody based on their bouquet’s magnitude. But you can’t take it out on the flowers, primarily bouquets of roses or arrangements of assorted flowers along with roses.

Then there’s one red rose, the iconic symbol of “I love you” – the same meaning as a bouquet of red. So, you may save your dough, and spring for a single red rose rather than a dozen.

Dark pink or peach means appreciation, Light pink- admiration, yellow – friendship, orange – desire, lavender – enchantment, white – “I am worthy of you.” White and red together – “We belong together.”

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White = “I am worthy of you.”

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Lavender = Enchantment

The tradition of giving chocolates

Then there’s the tradition of giving chocolates, far more enticing not being a rose person. I find roses hard to grow, attracting a plethora of diseases and insects.

I have two rose bushes from the previous owners. Each spring, I marvel over their shiny, maroon new growth and consider tackling the upcoming pests. The idea quickly fades when aphids and Black Spot fungus take over.

Even Knock-out roses, introduced as “care-free,” are often riddled with Rose Rosette caused by a virus spread by dust-sized mites. Never mind the Japanese beetles that chomp the heck out of them in summer. But you can’t take it out on the roses. And many clients and dear friends have a green thumb for roses. So maybe it’s just me. And I love their beauty and fragrance, as you may recall from the story about the Beauty and Beast of Roses (link below).

a bouquet of peach roses

Peach and Dark Pink = Appreciation

Legend has it the Aztecs considered chocolate an aphrodisiac. Chocolate is indeed proven to elevate moods, much like falling in love. I wonder if the types of chocolates have a meaning. Perhaps white chocolate means “I am worthy of you,” too. Though dark chocolate, especially with nuts, is the most worthy of my indulgence. Especially with a red wine chaser. Smile.

Rather than cut flowers, why not give the gift of growth and abundance that lasts, such as seeds for a vegetable or flower garden? But please don’t skip the chocolates, dear. Garden Dilemmas? (and now on your favorite Podcast App.)

There’s more to the story in the Garden Dilemmas Podcast (@10 soothing minutes):

You’ll enjoy the story of The Beauty and Beast of Roses and the Joy of Receiving Cut Flowers.

More about the History of Valentine’s Day

Joy of Receiving Cut Flowers




Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary
  1. jean Jackson Reply

    Thanks, Mary, for this interesting history of Valentine’s Day and roses. You always have some new ideas about flowers and I appreciate that!
    Hope your Valentine’s Day will be especially HAPPY!!!!!!

    Lots of love, Mom J.

    • Mary Stone Reply

      Happy Valentine’s Day Mom J, Your loving encouragement always cherished as are you. Much Love, Mary

  2. Joe Mastro Reply

    Happy St. Valentine’s Day Mary!

    • Mary Stone Reply

      Thank you, Joe! And thank you for reading my column :^)

  3. Writer Pilgrim Reply

    Look your Valentine’s post brought out so many comments. I rarely see them when I post. I went to the podcast today. Not sure how I ended up there, something I clicked on…. I was disappointed to hear about the plastic deck…. I doubt it is safe, for nature. I can assume it is easy maintenance but where does it go when it’s had its course of life. It’s hard living plastic free, don’t get me wrong. Plastic is everywhere even our clothes. I however loved the rose colour meanings and the bouquets of roses displayed above. Such wonderful colour combos. Sounds excruciating having to do cards for all your classmates. Where I grew up it was only in high school where you could get someone a red rose. I mean displaying feelings like that was not a thing. At least not for kids, openly in school. You’ve got a lovely voice! You know that! Keep writing!

    • Mary Stone Reply

      I’m so glad you stumbled into my podcast! Thank you for your kind words. I agree with your concern about plastic. My brother Rick listened to his big sister’s advice and retooled the previous Pallet-AC Screen using composite decking material. Like you, I’d still prefer cedar or other natural wood, especially if growing food. His new AC Screen is filled with lovely sedums and other plants; nothing he will eat. Here’s a link to the story with the updated photos at the bottom of the post.
      It’s fun to hear your childhood traditions! Thanks for sharing :^)

      • Writer Pilgrim Reply

        Hi Mary! Didn’t see your reply until you messaged. Thank you for that and sorry to give any inconvenience. The AC screen looks very much like wood. Apart from that it is absolutely beautiful as a construction and how the plants fit in to it. Beautiful.

        • Mary Stone Reply

          Never an inconvenience. I so appreciate your support of my blog posts. Thank you, Elisavet.

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