A bouquet of red roses lasts a few days, but what most gardeners would prefer for St Valentine's Day is a rose that lasts a lot longer.
© Gap Photos/Mark Bolton
The containerised roses currently at London's garden centres might not look much now, but will produce, come June and every June, scent and blooms to satisfy the most ardent romantic.
'Living plants represent a lasting symbol of love rather than the five-minute flirt of cut flowers'
They can also deliver a more potent message than the ho-hum "I love you" of long-stemmed red roses: The Garden Centre Group's newcomers include crimson groundcover Wild Thing and carmine-and-cream floribunda Crazy for You.
Matthew Wilson, managing director of Clifton Nurseries, where the romantic English roses are gathered en masse, recommends the perfumed, gorgeous blooms of deep pink Gertrude Jekyll and soft pink Eglantyne to seduce your loved one come summer. Both, to add to the romance, are unlikely to suffer from blackspot.
You could also send a Valentine's Day Rose Box to your green-fingered goddess - or god - with a bow-tied crate of scented hybrid musk rose Cornelia, a bottle of rosewater and a jar of rose petal jam, to tide them over until the real star appears, several months hence. The cost is £56 including delivery from The Gluttonous Gardener.
Living plants represent a lasting symbol of love rather than the five-minute flirt of cut flowers. You can buy seasonal and scented hand-tied Valentine's bouquets at Petersham Nurseries, pre-ordered for collection, but how much more imaginative - and meaningful - to buy the raffia-tied zinc trough planted with two-tone rose pink dwarf tulips and topped with moss.
The tulips' name? Heart's Delight, of course. When they've peaked, they can be planted in the border to spring up every Valentine's Day rather than be tossed on the compost heap.
More heartfelt Petersham purchases include flowering miniature white roses in heart-shaped copper trays, and rosettes of succulents in a circular antique gardener's sieve - extra points can be garnered for choosing a no-maintenance option.
'The sumptuous velvety-red lollipop camellia Black Lace makes a go-for-broke statement'
Cut-flower carnations are beyond the pale, especially when wrapped in printed cellophane and smelling more of filling station forecourt than cloves. However, The Garden Centre Group's potted plant version - a rich red carnation fittingly called Passion - is, amazingly, flowering already and divinely scented. A true heartbreaker at £5.99. Those just looking for a good time could proffer Passion's cerise-shaded sister, Tickled Pink.
Meanwhile, for Valentine's Day, The Chelsea Gardener is all heart in its conservatory, pinning heart-shaped labels stating the meaning of the plant on some of their most romantic offerings: jasmine (sensual), bird of paradise (joyfulness) and the spectacular Medinilla magnifica (magnificent beauty). Heart-shaped flowers are showcased too, such as scarlet anthurium and white calla lily - although the latter should carry a handle-with-caution warning: it means "marriage".
© Gap Photos/Friedrich Strauss
Camellias, just starting their season, signify "you're adorable"' and "longing for you". Some of the most beautiful, perfect for a prize spot on a patio or in a border, also have beautiful names - pink-and-white striped Lavinia Maggi, watermelon-pink Elegant Beauty, pure white double-flowered Primavera.
However, if you really want to make a go-for-broke statement, head for Fulham Palace Garden Centre, where you can find sumptuous velvety-red lollipop camellia Black Lace, 6ft tall and in full bloom - for £169.99. That's a whole lot of love.