Gertrude Stein may have written that “a rose is a rose is a rose,” but Barkev Abadjian knows there are many factors separating good roses from the less than desirable ones.
Abadjian has owned San Luis Obispo’s Albert’s Florist with wife Tzolig since 1981. The shop itself has been in business since the mid-1940s. It offers bouquets and arrangements, but also carries cut flowers and potted houseplants, including a good selection of orchids.
As Valentine’s Day nears, the shop becomes flush with roses. Red, of course, is the hands-down most requested bloom.
Abadjian evaluates roses from a host of growers to identify varieties that last the longest. A few of his favorite red varieties are Forever Young, Freedom, and Bordeaux — a locally grown rose with a lovely, deep burgundy hue.
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He noted that some varieties can last up to 12 days. This is dependent upon when the rose was originally cut and how the flowers are cared for.
Also important to Abadjian is whether the rosebuds will open and bloom.
“People say they want rosebuds, but if they stay as buds, they’re not good roses. They’re not drawing water,” he said.
To ensure that the roses take in water and food, and last as long as possible, he suggests choosing vase arrangements over wrapped bouquets, which can dry out quickly. Even with vase arrangements, you should change the water and, if possible, re-cut the stems of both greenery and flowers every two days.
If you do choose a wrapped bouquet, get it into water within two hours, otherwise the life of the flowers will be considerably shortened. That means if you’re planning to present flowers at a leisurely, romantic dinner, a vase arrangement might be the better choice.
When you get your bouquet or cut flowers home, cut the stems and place them into cool, clean water. Mix in the little packet of food that usually comes with the flowers. Abadjian happily provides extra packets to customers who want to add food with each water change.
Although red roses are traditional, Abadjian also stocks unusual varieties of roses, include bi-color varieties. Other stunning, yet commonly overlooked Valentine’s-appropriate flowers include cut orchids, tulips, Asiatic hybrid lilies, and fragrant Oriental hybrid lilies.
“Their price is not affected like roses this time of year,” he said. He blames higher rose prices on an upswing in demand, as well as the challenges growers face in forcing huge numbers of roses to bloom in winter weather.
Choosing a mix of flowers affords floral designers like Abadjian more creative license to produce something unique. Although he can reproduce standard FTD and Teleflora arrangements, his preference is to create original designs. He usually starts by asking questions about the recipient’s color preferences and personality. You can determine this by looking at their home décor or even their wardrobe. Are they traditional or contemporary? Do they gravitate toward the simple or the flashy?
From there, Abadjian works best when given a price range and the freedom to be creative.
“I’ll usually over-do it and choose the best possible, freshest flowers that I have,” he said. “Most of the time, the customer is very happy with the results.”
Albert’s Florist is located at 1357 Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo, 543-0567.