The Gift of Flowers

Roses in many different shades of red and orange make up this beautiful arrangement for Valentine’s Day, designed by Michael Lanni.

Soon it will be February 14th, Saint Valentine’s Day. A day of hearts, chocolates, romantic dinners and, of course, flowers. It is estimated that over 190 million Valentine cards were sent in the US in 2017, and that doesn’t even count the cards exchanged by schoolchildren.

Cynics of the holiday claim it is manufactured by Hallmark cards. But, Valentine’s Day goes back to Chaucer’s time in the late 1300s. Capitol Hill florists say it is one of their biggest days of the year, and yes, they all get last minute desperation calls for flowers for those procrastinators among us.

Each one of the florists says they believe people like giving and receiving flowers, whether in bouquet or live plants, because they bring an automatic smile to people’s faces.

Science actually backs this up. Psychology Today published an article based on research from the book, Happy Brain. It reported that three important chemicals – dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin – are all released when you are around flowers, especially when you receive them as a gift.

Michael Lanni whipping up a flower arrangement in his studio using strong colors to brighten the day.

Thinking Outside the Bouquet
Hill florist Michael Lanni of Volanni creates his floral designs for all occasions in a carriage house in an alley between 9th and 10th Streets, off Independence Avenue. In addition to retail floral arrangements, he designs flowers for special events held at the Supreme Court and creates weekly arrangements for the Sackler Art Museum.

Michael’s flower creations are small works of art. His background includes time spent as a Buddhist monk and he tries to incorporate his Zen approach to life in the flowers he uses in his arrangements.

“You should consider the person you are giving the flowers to in deciding what kind of flowers you are giving,” Michael explains. “Do they have a favorite color?” “Are they full of pop or more quiet?” Most important of all on February 14th, you do not have to use red roses on Valentine’s Day to make an arrangement that will delight your friend.

Volanni encourages folks to call two weeks ahead of Feb. 14th to order a flower arrangement. But they will have some bouquets available for the last minute shopper. Volanni floral design can be reached at 202-547-1603.

Carlos Arevalo and Charles Hudman work side by side in Surroundings to create one of kind flower bouquets.

Color Me Pink
Surroundings, a floral and landscaping shop, is located at the corner of East Capitol and 11th Street, SE. Owner Charles Hudman has been a florist for over four decades.

For Valentine’s Day, Charles says “I would choose Dutch flowers over the traditional roses if you don’t know exactly what your special someone would like.” Carlos Arevola, who works alongside Charles, suggests that, if you are looking to really impress your partner or special friend this year, you try an arrangement featuring a new rose called Pink Floyd. Surroundings plans to bring in a strong supply of these hot pink flowers that open to a large and fragrant rose for Valentine’s Day. The flower is named for the psychedelic sixties band, Pink Floyd.

Like most florists, Carlos has his own favorite flowers that he favors in designing his floral arrangements. “I like color that pops,” Carlos says, “and flowers that stay fresh for awhile.”

One good tip from Carlos and Charles is to clip the flowers every two days as you change the water, to keep everything fresh. It will keep your flower gift looking good for several weeks. Orchids are also a good choice if you’re aiming for longevity.

Surroundings is offering a 10% discount if you order before February 11. The flower shop does deliver to the Capitol Hill area, and they will have plenty of arrangements to choose from if you are walking by Lincoln Park that day. Surroundings can be reached by phone at 202-546-2125.

Eastern Market’s Blue Iris will open early on Valentines Day to help you get your flowers for the special day

Procuring your Valentine Flowers
Angie Brunson of Blue Iris Flowers at Eastern Market is also busy getting ready for the Valentine’s Day rush. It is one of her busiest days of the year, along with Mother’s Day weekend.

“Red Roses,” says Angie, “have to be my favorite Valentine’s Day bouquet, and for those looking for an economical bargain, you can’t go wrong with tulips.” She will have a wide variety of flower arrangements from bouquets to flowers in vases for Capitol Hill romantics. She opens at 7 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, and will remain open until 7:00 that night. Blue Iris can be called to make advance arrangements at 202-547-3588.

So, really, there is no excuse not to pass along joy, happiness, healing, and love to those you treasure this Valentine Day.


Rindy O’Brien is a long time Hill resident who cannot wait to see what flowers she receives on Valentine’s Day. Contact her at