He loves me, he loves me not. Although flowers are a lovely gift on any day of the year, if there is one you should most definitely make a trip to the florist for, it is Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day.
Around the world, the conduct around presenting a bouquet varies according to the occasion and intended recipient. In many countries, white and sometimes yellow blossoms are associated with farewells and funerals, while bright red specimens (particularly roses) are a universal token of love. In recent years, it has become popular to preserve flowers with significant meanings, like wedding bouquets, in resin plaques and jewellery.
Having said that, the discourse on spending hard-earned coins on expensive arrangements has divided communities across social media. At the core of the argument is that fresh flowers have a rather short shelf life, with the most fragile types expected to wither in just a few days. Their evanescence, combined with the fact that flowers do little much else but act as house decor, has led to claims that they are impractical and wasteful gifts.
Still, the demand for flowers surges each year in the month of February. Roses are red, violets are blue. Everyone’s still buying flowers for Valentine’s and, according to Hua Bar Flower founder Tang Sook Teng, so should you. And the best part is that you have several ways to go about it.
Having worked in floristry for nearly four years, Tang, who hails from the flora-abundant peaks of Cameron Highlands, started Hua Bar Flower with a key goal — “to convey those messages and emotions to customers through flowers”. This mission harks back to ancient times when the language of blossoms, or floriography, was commonly used to communicate unspoken sentiments. “Flowers all have different meanings, colours and characters. Each brings out distinct emotions for various occasions,” she says.
Known for a more rustic and organic approach to floral arrangements, Hua Bar’s Valentine’s Day offerings are perfect for the romantics at heart who want (a) a spiced up version of the traditional V-Day bouquet or (b) something that will last for more than a couple of weeks.
For those who fall into the first category, an array of fresh florals, mainly red and pink roses, are an easy way to put a smile on your loved one’s face. One of Tang’s favourite options, the Forever Yours Treasure Box, comprises a heart-shaped container packed with crimson and hot pink roses surrounded by delicate fillers. Customers may select to nestle in a white gold bracelet and necklace set for an additional surprise. Prefer something more permanent? Then opt for preserved flowers, artificial ones paired with adorable crochet counterparts, or Hua Bar’s newest introduction, soap roses that lather up under water.
The pricing of real blossoms can often come into question. Luckily, you get what you pay for at Hua Bar. “Pricing-wise, our designs are a bit steeper [than other florists’] as we often use imported flowers,” says Tang. Specific to roses, a Valentine’s Day staple, the florist favours Cuban, Kenyan and Columbian variations, which she says have “bigger blooms and are longer-lasting” compared with locally cultivated ones.
Beyond carefully curated designs and commitment to quality, she hopes to set Hua Bar Flower apart from other businesses in the market by putting its own spin on classic floristry trends. “We want to make our designs outstanding in their own way. To do that, we prefer to use a combination of flowers, foliage and fillers in various colours,” she says.
In Tang’s opinion, buying a bouquet for someone, no matter how elaborate or simple, could never be the useless gift some make it out to be. Recalling her store’s mission to deliver feelings in the form of bouquets, she says buying flowers for someone is not about the money or how long they can last, it’s about the heart and meaning behind every stalk. “It’s about taking the effort to show how much you love someone.”
The gesture of going out of your way to pick out a gift for a loved one — be it flowers, chocolates, cute stuffed animals or anything that sparks joy for them — is what matters most. After all, maintaining the beauty of a bouquet at home is easier than you think. According to Tang, the uncomplicated process begins with carefully removing the cotton at the base. “The wrapping can stay, but trim the stems at a 45° angle and place them in a vase with some water. That’s all you really need to do to keep them looking beautiful.”
To browse and purchase arrangements from Hua Bar Flower, see here.
This article first appeared on Feb 12, 2024 in The Edge Malaysia.