‘It will always be red roses’

By Cristina DC Pastor

A Manhattan man sending a flower arrangement to each of his 24 girlfriends.

A wife wondering if the husband she was divorcing truly sent her flowers.

Sexually graphic messages.

Owner Dennis Josue of Fantasia Floral Design on the Upper East Side has seen and heard everything. Nothing more will shock him, knowing that New Yorkers celebrate Valentine’s Day in the craziest manner possible.

Dennis Josue

“Tuesday will be a good day for me,” Dennis confidently told The FilAm.

“Good” because February 14 is a work day and most men will be dropping by a bagel deli, a gas station or a flower shop to buy flowers for the women in their lives on their way home. It is when Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend that flower shops suffer a hiccup because men would rather celebrate via an overnight romantic trip rather than buy their women flowers.

“If it falls on a weekend, it’s not as busy because offices are closed,” he said.

Five or so days before, Dennis’ store on the Upper East Side will see a deluge of red roses mostly coming from Holland and South America. There will be other flowers too, such as orchids, tulips, hydrangeas and peonies, but as Dennis seemed to concede, “When it comes to Valentine’s, it will always be red roses.”

Imagine the store jammed with a rainbow of the most beautiful flowers in every color possible and Dennis working behind the scenes to cut, clean and condition all of them before transforming them into breathtaking arrangements. We’re talking at least 500 red roses!

“When I get them, I have to clean them, take out the leaves and thorns, trim the stem and put them in crystalline solution,” he said. After two days, he changes the water and gives each stem a fresh cut all over again.

“If you don’t change the water, bacteria will seep in and your flowers will rot quickly,” he explained the tedious process. He has four to five people working with him, including his brother Edwin and husband Dan.

Then come the variety of arrangements, the packing, the shipping – all in a matter of two to three high-anxiety days. The way he told the story, Dennis sounded like he was going through the motions of yet another Valentine’s Day.

“I’ve been doing this for about 20 years,” he said with laughter in his voice.

Other flowers, other colors. Photos by Fantasia Floral Designs

He’s been trying to “educate” people about trying flowers other than red roses, Dennis said. But like the slow-blooming lily, acceptance is not quite there yet.

“I tell them, listen, a dozen red roses is a classic, but you can’t keep giving the same things every year, you need to vary,” he said, “Some get it, some don’t. I guess red roses is the norm, and people are just following tradition.”

While Valentine’s Day brings in an uptick in sales, he said Mothers Day is the bigger milestone.

“Everybody has a mother but not everyone has a girlfriend,” is how Dennis explained the flower-shopping tradition.

And those who do, don’t have 24 at any given time.


  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    Dear Ms. Pastor,

    I enjoyed reading this valentine story. It was funny and informative about flowers and, the meaning of valentine.


  2. Ann wrote:

    What a great blog.

  3. M. Matthews wrote:

    Yes, indeed! It’s worth reading this blog.

  4. Miles Gifford wrote:

    Good Job, very interesting…

  5. Harrison wrote:

    Impressive article.

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