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February 09, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Cover her in rose petals Cover her in rose petals (February 09, 2005)

Spark fantasy with flowers from an ancient tradition Spark fantasy with flowers from an ancient tradition (February 09, 2005)

by Sue Dremann

If butterflies seem too flighty, let rose petals spice up the imagination. Celebrating with rose petals has been a tradition since Roman times, when rose petals were strewn on ponds and banquet tables, according to the American Rose Society. Tossed, added to centerpieces, sprinkled on reception tables or covering outdoor bridal paths, rose petals remain among the most ardent symbols of love.

At Michaela's, formerly Stapleton's in Palo Alto, people often come in asking for petals to sprinkle on pillows for a romantic evening, said Steve Wong. He sells fresh petals in mixed colors, but will provide petals of specific colors on request.

For Valentine's Day, clients often decorate a limousine or bedroom, said Chris Hundley of Rose Petal Weddings, an online company offering both fresh and dried petals. "Mostly, it's men calling. They want to spoil their wives or girlfriends by sprinkling the petals on the bed, or making a rose petal pathway from the bed to the bath, or in the tub."

"Some men buy bags of roses, not just the petals. It just depend on how romantic the guy is," said Stefanie Soto, flower designer at Flowers By Bobbi in Mountain View. Soto often uses other fresh petals as well. Recently, she used stargazer lily petals for a wedding. "You can mix in all sorts of fun stuff. You can get inventive and sprinkle them around the cake. We did one wedding where we had the petals cascading down the cake onto the table."

Rose petals are available from many florists, who often save the outer guard petals from roses when they are cleaning them up. They are available both fresh and freeze-dried. But the freeze-dried petals have the advantage of being non-staining, which means they can be sprinkled indoors on carpets. "Fresh petals can stain carpets and be slippery, so we recommend they are used outdoors," Leslie Aldrich, owner of Menlo Florist in Menlo Park, said. She sells a dozen large roses' worth of petals in a bag for $10.

Although not as supple, freeze-dried petals retain the color, smell and look of the fresh variety. They also last longer. "For a hot summer wedding, you can decorate the day before," Hundley said. But if only fresh petals will do, consider they will only last two days. And dried petals can be scooped up and kept as a keepsake, a fragrant remembrance of a romantic evening or beautiful wedding.

The flowers come in a variety of colors: red, yellow, white, pink, lavender, peach, burgundy and purple. A Bed of Flowers in Menlo Park sells bags of fresh or freeze-dried petals in any color a bride desires -- including variegated colors and bicolored petals, said Julia Garcia of A Bed of Flowers. A gallon bag goes for $10, but "it's complimentary if a bride orders her flowers here," Garcia said. Give florists orders four days to a week in advance to prepare an order. Prices vary, from $8.95 for a 12-by-12-inch bag of mixed colors, to $39.95 for a shoeboxful of a single rare color.
In a box:
Sources: A Bed of Flowers, Menlo Park, (650) 234-9680 Barron Park Florist and Nursery, Palo Alto (650) 424-9466 City of Flowers, Mountain View (650) 965-4055 Flowers By Bobbi, Mountain View (650) 965-2121 Menlo Florist, Menlo Park, (650) 323-3171 Michaela's Flower Shop, Palo Alto (650) 321-5390 Palo Alto Flower Garden, Palo Alto (650) 325-0285 Rose Petal Weddings,

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