Dubbed the “Rolls Royce of roses,” Ecuadorian roses are easily snapped up by consumers even if they are sold at premium prices. (Florists are coy about divulging their rates).
Valued for their voluminous heads and saturated colors that range from royal crimson to a blushing pink, these roses are popular for their high visual impact. Despite the high price tags of these blooms, florists make a killing during Valentine season.
For Rockwell’s Valentine Flower Fair, floral designer Tony Rodriguez is highlighting Ecuadorian roses.
“Big flowers sell quickly. You can’t resist Ecuadorian roses the moment you see, smell and touch them. A long-stemmed Ecuadorian rose measures up to 70 cm. It sends the message of everlasting love or ‘Till death do us part.’”
“The shorter ones—40 cm—are sweet and delicate,” he adds. “They also come in bicolored petals without any artificial coloring—yellows and oranges.”
The roses are cultivated in the Andes Mountain under perfect conditions—high altitude, fertile volcanic soil and 12 hours of sunlight. Although they cost about 20 cents each in Ecuador, by the time they reach the US or the Philippines, they easily fetch $10 a stem.
Still, some people would rather express their sentiments more dramatically through these flowers. Historically, roses have been regarded as sacred flowers. From an aesthetic viewpoint, their snugly folded petals suggest the beauty of the pleated frills of a fabric.
For people who find roses too common, the amaryllis is an alternative, says Rodriguez. He is attracted to their long funnel-shaped petals, lack of fragrance and purity.
“I love the simplicity of the amaryllis, especially when it’s in full bloom. It is easy to grow and maintain. You just cut off the tip of the stem and replant it in a pot.”
Rodriguez cultivates them in his Malate apartment. When they are in bloom, neighbors and passersby can’t help but ask if they’re for sale.
Similar to the amaryllis, lilies, another of Rodriguez’s favorites, are trumpet-shaped but fragrant. The fragile and tender colors of the amaryllis and the lilies are said to be nurturing for the soul and are mood-lifting.
For the Valentine Flower Fair, Rodriguez uses native materials instead of the traditional glass and ceramic vases. He uses woven tote bags from a community in Northern Negros, native baskets, sinamay and jute to wrap the flowers.
He uses a more casual approach. Some flowers are arranged according to their color intensity, others are a contrast of pastels, while other bouquets are a heady mix of buds and blooms with wispy foliage.
To prolong the life of these cutflowers, they should always be in water.
Trim the lower part of the stem at a 45-degree slant so that water can flow freely up when the stem is in the water.
Always clean the flower vase or container to avoid bacteria.
Remove wilting petals and leaves below the water so that the flower doesn’t collapse quickly.
Place the arrangements away from direct heat and cold air drafts.
Keep checking the water level daily and add water.
A cancer survivor, Rodriguez, 63, is kept busy with weddings, corporate functions and product launches.
He reminisces about his collaborations with designers and their idiosyncracies.
The late Joe Salazar liked small, fragrant flowers. Auggie Cordero preferred gardenias. Inno Sotto requested amaryllis for receptions, and Pitoy Moreno loved cattleyas.
For Rodriguez, the ultimate healing comes from happy memories and the beauty of flowers.
Rockwell’s Valentine Flower Fair, at the lobby of Rockwell Power Plant, runs until Feb. 16.