Augusta Liddic/The Daily TimesShannon Carter, a designer at Flower Garden, attaches a bow to bouquet on Valentine’s Day.
Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times Shannon Carter, a designer at Flower Garden, attaches a bow to bouquet on Valentine's Day. (Augusta Liddic)
FARMINGTON — The floor of The Flower Garden was littered with green flower stalks, and a steady stream of men and a few women walked in the front door seeking Valentine's Day gifts for their loved ones.

Kevin Walker, an oil and gas industry worker, smiled as he reached into a quickly emptying cooler for a bouquet.

"Keeps me out of the dog house," he said. Walker also bought single red roses for his young daughters, an annual tradition.

For florists, chocolatiers and a few others, Valentine's Day is akin to Black Friday.

"We start getting ready for Valentine's Day in October," said Teri Harris, owner of the floral shop at 30th and Main streets. She expected to sell about 3,000 roses on Thursday.

Harris pulls in favors from family members and friends to staff the shop on Valentine's Day. The normal staff of six balloons to 11. And Harris puts 11 vehicles on the road delivering flowers around town.

"The good thing is everyone pitches in and my family goes above and beyond," she said.

Her sister, Tina Maudsley, is lead designer, and her mother, Ann Henderson, also designs bouquets.

"It's really a family business," Harris said.

She was concerned the shop would run out of chocolate.

Shannon Carter, a bouquet designer, described Valentine's Day as "fun but hectic."

A designer for the past five years, Carter learned to get ready for the holiday. "Try to get lots of sleep the night before," she said.

Harris orders roses from Miami. But many of the flowers are grown in Ecuador.

The Farmington florist isn't alone. In 2011, the U.S. imported $881 million in cut flowers, according to the Census Bureau.

Harris said while alternatives are popular, roses remain the iconic Valentine's Day gift.

"It represents love and passion," she said.

Luis Serrano of Aztec bought a large bouquet of blue roses, balloons and a teddy bear for his girlfriend of six months. He said the substantial tab was worthwhile.

"You've got to go all out for your girl," he said. "It's either that or a ring."

The bouquet had been completed shortly before by Krista Verquer, the former owner of The Flower Garden who still pitches in.

Galen Carter helped deliver flowers around town. He jokingly asked why the holiday seems to have a gender imbalance.

"I was telling my wife, why aren't the parts stores busy?"