Botany of Desire: 10 Ways to Spend Valentine’s Day With the Plant Lover in Your Life

Photos by Ryan Benoit

My co-Hort Ryan and I are feeling rosy right now as we get ready for our (get ready for this:) twelfth Valentine’s Day together this weekend. Back in 2004 we did the prix fixe thing with steak frites at Jules, followed by wandering in and out of parties in the East Village. Today in 2015 we might, since Valentine’s Day falls on the weekend, make a whole Saturday out of it. That includes making our favorite breakfast at our house, going out on an excellent day date, even doing a yard chore or two. But with cocktails! And cookies.

As much as we enjoy getting away, there’s lots of magic in staying local and rediscovering the good things around you. And literally vegging out. Here are our top 10 things to do this Valentine’s Day…

1. Breakfast together with homegrown herbs. Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for scrambled eggs is the best we’ve ever had. The crème fraîche and saucepan method are essential and absolutely worth it. They pair well with bread buttered with butter or ghee, and smoked salmon with cream cheese. We clipped some garden-fresh chives all over everything for an oniony kick — a cheerful way to start the day. Here’s Ramsay’s recipe and how-to video, via Lifehacker.

Warning: If you adopt this method, you might become the scrambled-egg overlord of your house.

By the way, you can grow chives indoors. Enjoy this herb year-round when you place it by a sunny windowsill.

Ageratum flowers in a mason jar create a romantic, rangy arrangement.

2. Wear matching (botanical) clothes. A couple that coordinates…perseverates. Or something like that. Anyway, Ryan’s horticulture-printed sweatpants were a gift from me from 10.Deep. My leggings and matching tank top were gift from Ryan from H&M. (Sweater from Everlane.)

It’s V-Day! This is your chance to cheese it up a bit.

3. Go on an outing to the farmers market. This activity is somewhat climate-dependent, but living in California has shown us the wonders of exploring strawberry-scented stalls with your favorite people. (Your main squeezes of course, but also friends and family from out of town, who will gain a sense of the local flavors.) When we go to the La Jolla Open Aire Market near our house, our favorite stops are Suzie’s Farm, Nicolau Farms goat cheese, the Cravory cookies, and a flower stand that always has the most intoxicating tuberoses.

Today we picked up some sweet peas that smell divine.

Sweet pea is our scent of the day.

The Romanesco cauliflower on the right is destined for our lunch plates.

4.  Make lunch. We recently started using Blue Apron to broaden our recipe horizons and gain more confidence in the kitchen. This service will send you the instructions and ingredients (many of which are pre-measured and family-farmed) for artful, not-too-labor-intensive meals every week.

Last week’s round included roasted cauliflower steaks with sage and einkorn, a rich-tasting, ancient variety of wheat that was first domesticated around 7500 BCE. Thanks to our trip to the farmers market, we included the fractal-topped Romanesco broccoli cauliflower from Suzie’s Farm in the dish. It was phenomenal — flavorful, seasoned perfectly and hearty. Get the original recipe here.

Aside from the Romanesco cauliflower at the upper left (which we got from Suzie’s Farm via the farmers market), the ingredients and instructions are from Blue Apron.

Roasted Romanesco cauliflower steaks with einkorn and crispy sage.

Roasted Romanesco cauliflower steaks with einkorn and crispy sage. Not only is the fractal-form veggie beautiful, it’s delicious, with a nutty flavor and hearty texture.

We chose these tall stems of pink ginestra for their flurries of delicate flowers, which we tilted this way and that inside vintage vases.

5. Go plant shopping, or visit a sultry conservatory or greenhouse. If you’re in the middle of freezing-cold temps right now (and maybe you’re a little nettled by all these outdoor suggestions), we recommend checking out what your local nurseries, public gardens and conservatories have to offer. Escape reality for a few hours to walk through a perfumed greenhouse full of orchids. It’ll be transporting. We especially like the ones at Snug Harbor Farm in Kennebunk, Maine, and the botanical gardens of DC and New York, which has “day date” events happening this Valentine’s Day.

Love bugs, consider plant shopping for a #Saturdate.

6. Pot a new plant together. We picked up this wicked tree aloe (Nick Deinhart hybrid) at our local independent nursery, and planted it in this beautiful iridescent ceramic pot that’s now located next to our fireplace. Internet voices have revealed that this specimen can get up to 10 feet tall. So maybe we’ll have to set another date to transplant?

Aloe Nick Deinhart Hybrid - Hybrid Tilt-head Tree Aloe

We planted a tree aloe (a Nick Deinhart hybrid) in a darling pot. We later came to find out that this plant can reach between eight and ten feet tall, so, repotting might call for another meetup down the line…

7. Take a cheeky photo. Remember today. You only live once, so to thine own selfie be true. Here is our best attempt at American Gothic thanks to a pitchfork and a camera timer.

Selfie stuff. For kicks we do a spin on ‘American Gothic’ by Grant Wood.

8. Go out to dinner. Treat yourself! Whether it’s a hot new reservation or an old standard, dinner always tastes better after yard work.

9. Make your favorite cocktails and have (uh) dessert at home. Maybe by the fireplace, indoors or out. Our standby is a Manhattan with Cocchi Americano in place of vermouth and Morello cherries in place of Maraschino.

We drank the cocktails with cookies from the Cravory, one rosemary-balsamic and the other flavored with oatmeal, stout beer, marshmallows and bacon.

Manhattan
(One serving)
3 ounces rye whiskey
1-1/2 ounce Italian vermouth (substitute this with Cocchi Americano for more a herbaceous flavor)
3 dashes Angostura bitters
3 Morello cherries (in a dark syrup — check Trader Joe’s) because they seep/weep ever so slightly.

Pour rye whiskey and vermouth (or Cocchi Americano) into a shaker, add bitters and ice, stir vigorously for 15 seconds, strain into a coupe and drop in cherries.

10. Bliss out to some tunes. Preferably throughout everything that we’ve listed above. A few things we’ve been listening to include Calma Carmona, Clairy Brown and the Bangin’ Rackettes, D’Angelo’s new album (!!), Haim, Les Sins and Prince’s Purple Rain, on vinyl with the album cover mobbed with flowers.

Wishing you happy Valentine’s Day vibes!

 —TH

Even the caterpillars are getting in the mood. We found this love bite on our Passiflora edulis — alt name: passion flower.

 

  • Bob Benoit

    An awesome article with some original ideas. However, we’ll need to buy ourselves some matching pants before Saturday . . . Happy Valentine’s Day to the two of you!

    • Thanks! Wishing you a Happy Valentines Day too! Good luck finding some botanical pants 🙂