In the very practical country and times in which I grew up in New Zealand, Valentine’s Day was not celebrated. So, when my husband and I moved to the US I was confused about the customs surrounding the celebration. The first year we lived in the country, Bruce arrived home with some long-stemmed red roses on the 14th of February. Since I did not own a vase that would accommodate them I did the eminently sensible thing, cut off the stems and floated the heads in a bowl. Bruce gave up and has never bothered with such whimsy again, although in his defense, he has periodically brought home bouquets across our 47 years together.
Part of my confusion about Valentine’s Day is the expectation that flowers are given and received in a month when there are so few of them in bloom. Particularly roses in the northern hemisphere. At Dunn Gardens we have a few flowers to cheer up the nascent spring. You can find them described on our website: ericas, crocus, the vulnerable yellow blossom of Cornus mas, and hellebores to name just a few.
The day itself is named after St. Valentine of ancient Rome who was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden by law to marry. And for ministering to Christians, then a persecuted group. Before his execution the saint wrote a letter to the daughter of his jailer whom he had healed and signed it “Your Valentine.”
About the 14th century the day became associated with romantic love—blame the poems of Geoffrey Chaucer. In the 18th century, England’s lovers expressed their affection by offering flowers, sweets, and hand written greeting cards that were known as ‘valentines.’ Today, we do the same with the exception of the handwritten cards. They come from our children to be tucked away as treasures.
In this 21st century at Dunn Gardens, we have decided it is time to honor the long Valentine’s tradition and are doing so on February 14th. Those looking for a unique setting and experience are welcome to come and see the flowers we do have in bloom, and then warm up by the fire in Ed’s Cottage with a special drink. This will be followed by a French meal family-style, so guests may enjoy their partner and the company of others. Because the space is intimate the numbers who can be accommodated at this special event is limited, so make your booking soon.
If you have questions call Carolyn at 206 362 0933 or book online.
And while you are doing so, bear in mind a thought penned by E. Marshall, a Canadian poet, that applies to our celebration. “Out with the cold, in with the woo.” Bring on the woo, we say. We’d love to have you.