Ask the Experts: This Valentine’s Day, Send the Best Flowers (and Candy) Ever

Love and lilies are flying through the air, and plants are purring their super-secret messages. That’s right — Valentine’s Day is almost here! Wondering what kind of bunch to get your boo?

Pine away no more; we checked in with five independent floral designers across the country — plus one botanically inspired confectioner — to see what people are ordering for their friends and lovers this holiday.

Read on for locally farmed bouquets, ascendant anemones, why rosy dozens are dunzo, and why more men will be getting arrangements this year.

Plus three magic words: marzipan love notes…

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Anemones and ranunculus blaze in this “old romance”-inspired bouquet by Dandelion Ranch.

Dandelion Ranch, Los Angeles, CA

“In LA it’s all about long-lasting, drought-friendly Valentine’s arrangements, [our] specialty for over a decade,” the team at Dandelion Ranch tells us. “During this drought crisis in California, these long-lasting arrangements — that may include succulents, greens, dried or hearty florals — are the perfect way to say ‘I love you’ while being respectful of our environment.”

Helmed by the incomparable Clover Chadwick (a former French Laundry maître d’), Dandelion Ranch is known for installations that allow plants’ natural kinetics to shine. Customers are also loving the studio’s meadow-inspired floral “screens,” along with “tall and billowing” arrangements of greens, eucalyptus, roses and ranunculus for instant romance.

Plus, flowers for the guys are happening in a big way — “in tool boxes or tires, or long-lasting succulents and greens in wooden boxes. We are getting more orders from the girls for the guys, and the guys for the guys. Our more manly arrangements are on Pinterest.”

Images courtesy of Dandelion Ranch.

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Green Prince, Marble and Green Velvet echeveria succulents mingle with seeded eucalyptus, scabiosa pods, ‘Kent Beauty’ oregano and rabbit fern in this Dandelion Ranch arrangement.

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In one of Dandelion Ranch’s iconic “screen” bouquets, Marble echeveria succulents, roses, ranunculus, mums, astrontia and liatris create a meadowy effect.

Little Acre Flowers, Washington, DC

Also noticing the move to taller silhouettes is the new Little Acre Flowers, launched just last month (!) in the Washington, DC area with a dedication to sustainable floristry.

“I do love the lushness of tightly composed arrangements, but I see the elegance in the loose, Dutch Masters-esque styles as well,” says Little Acre founder Tobie Whitman. “Taller vases are also back, as well as arrangements with more variety in them.”

The company creates arrangements of seasonal flowers sourced exclusively from local mid-Atlantic farms. You can send your arrangement in a vase or wrapped in repurposed burlap from beloved local coffee roaster Mayorga.

“I launched Little Acre because I want a more sustainable floral industry,” Tobie says. “Going local means fresher arrangements, reduced environmental impact, interesting varietals and enhanced local economies.”

For Valentine’s Day, the studio will be offering a gorgeous seasonal mix: pure white lilies, pink and red tulips, mixed hyacinths, blooming quince branches and dusty miller foliage.

Images courtesy of Little Acre Flowers.

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Little Acre Flowers creates arrangements of seasonal flowers sourced exclusively from local mid-Atlantic farms.

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You can get your arrangements in vases…


Or handsomely wrapped in repurposed burlap from DC’s Mayorga coffee roasters.


“I got into plants because of my grandmother — she was from Holland and always had amazing flowers and plants at her house,” says Tobie Whitman, who launched Little Acre Flowers earlier this year. “We went to Holland when I was a teenager and I fell in love with the tulips. My mother still has a staghorn [fern] that by now is almost 40 years old. It’s enormous.”

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Anemones are also all the rage this Valentine’s Day.

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For Valentine’s Day, Little Acre Flowers will be offering a seasonal mix: pure white lilies, pink and red tulips, mixed hyacinths, blooming quince branches and dusty miller foliage.


Pistil & Vine, Chicago, IL

Meanwhile in the Midwest, everything’s coming up anemones. “People love anemones!” says Megan Musschoot, owner/creative director of Pistil & Vine in Chicago. “Yes, these little guys are very seasonal, but they truly make the arrangements sing.”

Also popular at Megan’s Bucktown shop are yellow and coral peonies, and succulents and air plants combined with “soft, full and textural” flowers like ranunculus, hydrangea and orchids.

Megan, who opened her shop in 2011, expects heightened adventure in orders for 2014. “This year, we know our clients much better and they know us too,” she says. “So my prediction would be that we do fewer dozen-red-rose arrangements — solely because our shoppers know we’ve got better ideas up our sleeves!”

Images courtesy of Pistil & Vine.

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Pistil & Vine’s Megan Musschoot.


Peonies remain the people’s favorite at Pistil & Vine.


Anemones “truly make the arrangements sing,” says Megan.


Root 75, Coronado, CA

Speaking of that scarlet dozen…

“We don’t even accept orders for a dozen roses because they can be so underwhelming on Valentine’s Day, and frankly give ordering flowers a really bad rap,” says Katherine Farley of Coronado, CA’s spectacular Root 75. “[That is], super expensive and potentially really boring. So we ‘suggest’ lovely mixed arrangements with lots of fun color and texture.”

Katherine co-owns Root 75 alongside longtime friend Kristy Pierre. This year people are making their beloveds blush with poppies, ranunculus, cymbidium and phalaenopsis orchids, amaryllis, dusty miller, agonis and carnations. “No shame,” Katherine quips about the latter underrated flower. “We always have fun plants like the amazing ‘jewel orchids’ that are on their way to blooming this time of year, and cool sansevierias. And I’m a total sucker for a heart-shaped jasmine topiary, which I suppose can feel a little more soft and romantic.”

Images courtesy of Root 75.


At Root 75, tulips and Iceland poppies shout sweet nothings in happy highlighter colors.


Cymbidium and phalaenopsis orchids bring tropical heat to red roses.


Amaryllis, dusty miller, agonis and carnations create a painterly effect this Valentine’s Day, courtesy of Root 75. (Dig the persimmons!)

By the Bunch, Portland, OR

Leave it to the City of Roses to mingle the classic Valentine’s flower (locally grown, of course) with edgier, out-of-the-box species.

“Post holidays we usually spend most of January gearing up for our Black Friday, Valentine’s Day,” says Rachel Galloway, owner of By the Bunch in Portland, OR. Lately she’s been working with “more exotic offerings” like pincushion protea, flowering grevillea, vanda orchids, and heart-shaped seed pods. Also, cuttings from houseplants (e.g. flowering jasmine, rex begonias and unusual philodendrons) have been giving her bouquets an extra oomph.

Rachel adds, “Spring comes early in the flower world with witch hazel, quince and forsythia to force. This year one of our favorite local rose and lily growers is upping their game with anemones and ranunculus. Here in Portland we love local, so we are pretty excited that Peterkort Roses — in addition to the numerous varieties of roses they grow, and their ever-changing novelty lilies with dramatic colored markings — have taken on these early spring delicacies.”

Images courtesy of By the Bunch.

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White ranunculus and white roses add wintery warmth to a Valentine’s Day arrangement from By the Bunch in Portland, OR.


“Succulents are nothing new at this point, but the love affair is not over,” says Rachel Galloway, owner of By the Bunch. Above, succulents gleam in cement brick planters.


Another popular plant, flowering cabbage, canoodles with white ranunculus.

A Secret Forest, Los Angeles, CA 

Aiming for the full flower-and-candies combo? In Los Angeles, A Secret Forest Patisserie creates whimsical pastries and confections using organic fruits, herbs, edible gold leaf and flowers — for example, these honeysuckle-flavored lollipops with handmade marzipan roses. Be still our hearts, boomp-boomp, boomp-boomp.

“People love that they’re able to customize the marzipan scrolls and love notes,” owner Vanessa Beller says of her edible art pieces. “I really love the ritual of candy, from the science of sugar to the sort of kindness and happiness it inspires.”

Also on the rise? “I’m noticing people making all kinds of amazing flavored marshmallows lately,” says Vanessa, who also makes these marshmallow-flavored strawberry lollies. “Boozy candy seems to be getting popular too. I’ve gotten lots of requests to incorporate bacon in my lollipops, but I won’t ever. I’m a huge fan of the animals; my kitchen is strictly vegetarian. I’m sticking to fruit and edible flowers.”


Images courtesy of A Secret Forest.

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At LA’s Secret Forest Patisserie, marzipan notes and scrolls bear personalized messages.

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Marshmallow-flavored lollies with organic strawberries.

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Japanese cherry blossom-flavored lollipops.

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Honeysuckle-flavored lollipops with marzipan roses.

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Apple-flavored lollipops with marzipan hearts.

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Plum-flavored lollipops with marzipan swans.