Tropical Gardening: Time to Rethink Valentine’s Day


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Tropical Gardening: Time to Rethink Valentine's Day

Tropical Gardening: Time to Rethink Valentine’s Day

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Oops! Valentine’s Day is Monday. Fortunately, we have weekend preparations. You might consider having a jewel or fancy dinner at a local restaurant, but given today’s economy, it’s probably better to be conservative. Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate the love we have for spouses, friends and family, but most people are unaware of the holiday’s dark origins as its history is shrouded in mystery. It seems to have started with Faun in ancient Rome. Of course, they borrowed from earlier pagans. In any case, before it became a Christian holiday, men would sacrifice goats or dogs and then whip women with the hides of the slain animals. This is supposed to improve fertility! According to some historians, there was a lot of drinking and nudity. The draw usually involves men drawing women’s names from a jar for a makeshift match. Some matches went on, some were one-night stands. The results are almost certain to give birth! Fifty Shades of Grey had no candles at all in those days.

Oops! Valentine’s Day is Monday. Fortunately, we have weekend preparations. You might consider having a jewel or fancy dinner at a local restaurant, but given today’s economy, it’s probably better to be conservative. Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate the love we have for spouses, friends and family, but most people are unaware of the holiday’s dark origins as its history is shrouded in mystery. It seems to have started with Faun in ancient Rome. Of course, they borrowed from earlier pagans. In any case, before it became a Christian festival, men would sacrifice goats or dogs and then whip women with the hides of the slain animals. This is supposed to improve fertility! According to some historians, there was a lot of drinking and nudity. The draw usually involves men drawing women’s names from a jar for a makeshift match. Some matches went on, some were one-night stands. The results are almost certain to give birth! Fifty Shades of Grey had no candles at all in those days.

Pope Glasius I rewrote the pagan holiday into a Christian holiday circa 496 AD. Valentine’s Day appears to be named after two martyrs of the same name who were executed by Emperor Claudius II in the third century AD. Their martyrdom was eventually honored by the Catholic Church.

Shakespeare and Chaucer romanticized it in their works. Handcrafted cards became symbols of the Middle Ages, so today we look at the festival in a more romantic way. But what really made this big business was the mass production of Hallmark Cards starting in 1913. Sales of cards and gifts are expected to reach around $20 billion this year!

Given its origins, we can look at Valentine’s Day in a cynical way, but love can save the day. The joy of choosing a card or gift for a loved one brings out the best in us. On the receiving end, it warms hearts and helps our spouses, children, parents and friends feel very special.

Sometimes it can be hard to know what to give to someone you care about. The old adage “Candy is dude, wine is good” works for some people.

Others may give jewelry, but for a Hawaiian gardener, what better than giving or receiving a special anthurium, orchid, or bromeliad!

Hawaii is known for thousands of orchid varieties and hybrids. In fact, the Big Island used to be called Orchid Island. Although they are difficult to grow in most continental homes and gardens, they grow and bloom here with little or no concern. Some species have become naturalized and grace our forests and roadsides. Flowering orchids can last for several weeks at home, then put on the crotch of the tree and continue blooming for several years. Available at most garden stores and nurseries, you’ll find Cattleya, Dendrobium, Oncidium, Bandai, and more.

Pineapples come in all shapes, sizes and colors. The best for this holiday are the ones with red inflorescences and leaves. Some grow best as epiphytes on rocks or trees. Many require no soil and only minimal water. If grown in pots, they like excellent drainage.

My favorite flower for Valentine’s Day is the heart-shaped anthurium. Hawaiian growers have developed many hybrid varieties of all shapes and sizes in colors ranging from white, orange, red, variegated, and even almost black. Black may not be the best gift for the occasion.

Anthurium does well in cool, moist conditions with well-drained soil and high organic matter content.

Whatever gift you decide on, forget about the strange origins of this holiday and remember to give with all the love you can find. You will find that giving with love is one of the key elements of Aloha Hawaii.

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