Special Delivery

You want that Valentine's Day bouquet to speak of love. But how well can florists get your message across? We put 10 to the test.

February 06, 2000|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff

Nothing says "I love you" better than a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for Valentine's Day -- unless the name is misspelled or the roses droopy. Putting your dreams in the hands of some nameless person at a florist shop is tough. How do you know your beloved will really get what you asked for?

We decided to find out, by calling local florists and ordering arrangements with a few not-too-complicated instructions.

We told each florist we wanted to spend $40 plus delivery. We asked for a romantic arrangement in colors like lavender, pink, white or red. We left the choice of flowers and container up to them, except we told them not to use carnations.

The arrangements were to go to a "Mary Scheuermann" at The Sun (not an easy last name to spell), and the card was to read, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Love, Geoff." We requested delivery on a Thursday before noon.

FOR THE RECORD - In an article on florists in the Feb. 6 Home & Family section, the location of Flowers by Chris was incorrect. The florist has moved to 1019 Cathedral St. The Sun regrets the error.

We also went on the Internet and ordered a similar arrangement from flowers.com (1-800-Flowers), the Sentimental Surprise for $39.99 plus delivery.

Then we had a little luck, something we couldn't have planned. Three inches of snow fell that Thursday. (After all, it could happen on Valentine's Day. You want to know your flowers will get there anyway.) Two florists called to say they weren't delivering in the snow, Rutland Beard in Ruxton and Wilhide's in Ellicott City.

"Mary" got the other eight arrangements, although not all of them by noon. The flowers we ordered from flowers.com came Wednesday afternoon instead of Thursday morning.

All the florists got the quotation and both names with their difficult spellings right. The Flower Cart (area locations) spelled "compare" "comepare," but at least it was a handwritten card -- more romantic than the typed greetings of Flowers by Chris (Inner Harbor), Radebaugh's (Towson) and Hunt Valley Florist, which delivered the flowers.com bouquet.

Here's what $40 plus delivery bought:

Mille Fleurs

314 Wyndhurst Ave.

Roland Park

410-323-3182

Not for everyone. Mille Fleurs' unusual and charming arrangement came in a wood container faux-painted to look like verdigrised copper. The flowers (such as seeded eucalyptus and waxflower) were listed on the back of the card -- a nice touch.

Cost: $48

Grade: A

Dutch Connection

3811 Canterbury Road

Tuscany-Canterbury

410-467-7882

This new florist specializes in unusual hand-tied bouquets. Even without a container, the effect was spectacular: blush pink and orangy-red roses and the most beautiful greens you've ever seen in a bouquet. On the down side, the roses weren't quite so perfect as they should have been, and the owner forgot the order until we called.

Cost: $45

Grade: B+

Peace & Blessings Florist

2109 1/2 Gwynn Oak Ave. Woodlawn 410-944-1500

We agree this was a wonderful arrangement. It just wasn't the arrangement we ordered. We loved the cheery yellows, the large sunflowers, the orange lilies. The profusion of flowers looked great in a white wicker basket. But the arrangement wasn't romantic, and the color scheme wasn't the one we had specifically requested.

Cost: $47

Grade: B-

Myland Farm StevensonVillage Center

410-484-5540

This stunning arrangement of lilies, roses and tulips in a clear glass vase was one of the first to arrive -- lavish, sensual and so gorgeous you have to wonder if they suspected something.

Cost: $50

Grade: A

Flowers by Chris

Harbor Court Hotel

530 Light St.

410-727-3434

This pretty arrangement was romantic in the old-fashioned, Victorian sense, with pale, delicate flowers and sheer ribbon. It lasted better than the others because it arrived with the lilies and the orchids closed -- a plus and a minus. First impressions count. Until the flowers were in full bloom, it didn't look like much.

Cost: $48

Grade: B+

Radebaugh's

120 Burke Ave.

Towson

410-825-4300

Can you have a romantic arrangement that doesn't contain even one rose? Yes, but this wasn't it. The daisies were more cheerful than romantic. The glass goblet that held the flowers looked like something your great aunt would love.

Cost: $48

Grade: B-

1-800-Flowers

www.flowers.com

The picture on the Web site looks good. The description promises an arrangement that includes spray roses, lilies, pompon mums, waxflower and purple statice. What we got were three roses, baby's breath, carnations and daisies wedged into a thick, old-fashioned glass container. The mini-picture frame hung around the vase didn't help. A major disappointment.

Cost: $46.98

Grade: C

Flower Cart

area locations

410-426-3545

Give them credit for one gorgeous pink rose. But there was no sense of arrangement here, just a lot of mismatched flowers stuck in a vase. Still, that wouldn't earn anyone a poor grade. It was the carnations. How could they include them when we had said that "Mary" hated carnations. It could have been the end of a beautiful romance.

Cost: $49.50

Grade: C

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