If you’ll forgive us a Valentine’s poem …
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
How far did yours travel
To make it to you?
Unless you made a point of finding American flowers, odds are any bouquets you bought or received today traveled far indeed.
These photos, from this year’s Valentine’s Day rush as well as previous years’s growing seasons, show a few of the greenhouses that enable the world’s romantic gestures.
Last year NPR’s Planet Money took a close look at the “logistical miracles and wild risks” that bring millions of blooming roses to America on one exact day.
They note that indestructibility is fundamental to the rose’s appeal — they’re uniquely suited for being transported thousands of miles.
“We didn’t just set up this global transportation chain in order to get this traditional flower, roses,” correspondent Robert Smith said. “We actually started to like roses because they were optimized for the global transportation chain. They were the flower that worked best with the planes and the boxes and the farms.”
And indeed, most of the roses we buy in the U.S. on Valentine’s day are imported — this year, an estimated half a billion are arriving from Colombia alone, The Washington Post reports.
Colombia is the single largest supplier of cut flowers to the U.S., followed by Ecuador.
Mexico, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, Thailand, Kenya and Guatemala are also significant suppliers, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.