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How to choose flowers for a special occasion

PUBLISHED: 15:40 20 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:40 20 February 2014

Rosa 'Crazy for You'

Rosa 'Crazy for You'


Why not give a plant that has a special meaning for a special occasion? Here, Leigh Clapp brings us a few suggestions, plus a couple of fantastic reader offers along the way...

To mark a special occasion such as Valentine’s Day, or celebrate a birthday, engagement, anniversary or Mothering Sunday, why not try searching out a plant with a specific name or message. The extra effort and thought is sure to be appreciated.

A tree or plant for a new garden makes a lovely choice to mark a wedding or as a housewarming gift. The very first plant given to a non-gardener could start a life-long interest. You may even be able to find a matching surname as well as the Christian name, and who could resist a beautiful scented rose or glorious camellia coupled with a special message? There is also the opportunity to take a humorous tack with a plant that has a witty name to suit the situation.

For centuries, plant breeders have been naming new cultivars after their family members, patrons and cherished friends, or to commemorate a special personal event. It was considered bad form to name the new plant after yourself, so only rarely does it end up with the discoverer’s name. People from history and fictional characters, from William Shakespeare to Cinderella, as well as famous places and world leaders, have also been immortalised by plants.

You may not know that roses, for instance, mostly honoured royalty or relatives of the grower before the 1950’s. Since then, celebrity has come to the fore with many named after movie and TV stars.

Another theme for naming plant cultivars is descriptive or emotive to the look of the plant. These can be a fun way to characterise the recipient’s personality or to convey how you feel.

Take a look on-line or have a careful wander around your local garden centre – you never know; you or your family and friends may be ‘famous’, or that perfect message may be beckoning on the label to make a unique gift for that special someone.

In February, you can buy bare root and potted roses, and dress one up with a pretty bow, or camellias will be in flower. Alternatively, how about making a gift voucher of a special plant you have ordered?

Where to look...

Here in Surrey, a good place to start is the Windlesham-based online nursery Crocus, who pride themselves on being able to offer the biggest choice of plants online in the UK – over 4,000 at the last count. Since their launch in 2000, they have grown into the biggest gardening website in the UK and regularly supply plants for the show gardens at RHS Chelsea. Offering an array of possibilities, look out for roses such as ‘Special Anniversary’, ‘Mum in a Million’ or ‘You’re Beautiful’, along with camellias, such as ‘Silver Anniversary’ and ‘Debbie’.

Another Surrey recommendation is to visit the award-winning Millais Nurseries at Crosswater Farm in Churt, either online or in person, for their range of camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons. Camellias that may suit include ‘Desire’, ‘Paradise Belinda’ or ‘Anticipation’. Take a look in particular at the Gift Ideas page for suggestions 
such as Camellia ‘Silver Anniversary’ or Rhododendron ‘Fantastica’. Later on in spring, a flowering rhododendron may be perfect with options such as ‘Birthday Girl’, ‘Dreamland’, ‘Elizabeth’, ‘Lovely William’ or ‘Teddy Bear’, as Millais Nurseries grow one of the widest ranges of rhododendrons and azaleas in the world. In addition, Millais Nurseries are kindly offering Surrey Life readers a special 10% discount before March 31; either pop into the nursery with a copy of the February issue with this article or visit them online and use the Promotional Code ‘Surrey Life’.

For roses such as ‘Jenny’s’, ‘Good as Gold’ or ‘Deep Secret’, along with a wide range of other plants to browse through, visit one of the Squire’s Garden Centres across Surrey. You may discover some different options by reading the labels carefully. How about glossy Pieris ‘Valley Valentine’, or winter-flowering Hamamelis ‘Diane’ or ‘Sandra’, or indeed for the man in your life Hellebore ‘Ivory Prince’? Suggestions from Tim Jacob, group plant buyer at Squire’s, include Cordyline ‘Pink Passion’, Nemesia ‘Amelie’, Polyanthus ‘Stella Champagne’, Hellebore ‘Rosemary’, Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussy’, Hebe ‘Heartbreaker’ or Daphne ‘Rebecca’. What is more, Squire’s Garden Centres is offering Surrey Life readers 20% off all roses until February 23, with the code ‘Roses2013’.

Have fun hunting out something to suit the recipient; they’re sure to be appreciative of the effort, or maybe amused by the creative possibilities you have discovered.


More plants to look out for…

• Camellias: Ballet Dancer, Celebration, Debbie, Dream Boat, Jamie, Lovelight, Silver Anniversary, Yours Truly

• Dahlias: Beatrice, Bliss, Boogie Woogie, David Howard, Julie, Ken’s Flame, Magic Moment, Sweet Sensation

• Dianthus: Doris, Passion, Slap n Tickle

• Hydrangeas: Alice, Annabelle, Bouquet Rose, The Bride, Unique

• Iris: Endless Love, Jeanne Price, Jesse’s Song, Juliet, Rob Cornell

• Roses: Absolutely Fabulous, Adam, Angela, Bride And Groom, Claire Rose, Crazy For You, Fab At 50, First Love, Graham Thomas, Home Sweet Home, Marry Me, Mum in a Million, Pretty Jessica, Sexy Rexy, Simply The Best, Tiffany Rose

• Salvias: Anna, Joan, Marcus, Victoria, Hot Lips


Need to know:

Crocus Ltd, online and trade nursery

Windlesham GU20 6LQ
Open days held through the year

Millais Nurseries
Crosswater Farm, Churt GU10 2JN
Open Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm

Squire’s Garden Centres
Located across Surrey

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