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Over the Rainbow sees its share of romantics

Over the Rainbow Floral and Gift floral designer Laura Glessing-Aakhus strips the leaves and thorns off dozens of roses Monday morning in preparation for Valentine's Day. Roses remain the most popular flower for the romance-filled holiday.1 / 8
Floral designer Laura Glessing-Aakhus's feet are awash in greenery she has stripped from the stems of roses destined for happy Valentine's Day recipients.2 / 8
Roses in multiple shades form a bouquet after being stripped of excess leaves and thorns.3 / 8
Jim Cooper, owner Pam Cooper's husband, wraps wire around a rose to keep its head upright and strong while drinking water.4 / 8
Over the Rainbow owner Pam Cooper excitedly prepares for Valentine's Day, which is one of the shop's busiest holidays along with Mother's Day.5 / 8
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A red rose rests with a cluster of lavender roses.8 / 8

From first love to marital bliss, the floral designers at Over the Rainbow Floral and Gifts have their talented fingers on the romantic pulse of Wadena this time of year.

Valentine's Day is the most fun holiday for the shop, said owner Pam Cooper.

"We get to help guide the guys along in the romance department," she said.

Not that all local guys need that much help, according to Cooper.

"We have some very imaginative guys in this area when you come right down to it," she said. "We do still have some very true romantics."

The shop has specials for Valentine's Day that customers can pick out of the case, but they can order custom arrangements with favorite flowers and special vases, too.

Guys you wouldn't expect have come with some pretty "wow" ideas, Cooper said. There has never been an off-the-wall concept the designers weren't able to capture.

Incorporating flowers into marriage proposals is very common this time of year, Cooper said. One time a man had little diamond chips put into roses that he lined along the sidewalk to his house. The last rose had a diamond engagement ring in it, she said.

It's fun to create arrangements for Valentine's Day, said Paula Aurand, a floral designer of 38 years. People are in love and have put some thought into their orders. The designers get to pick up that vision and create it for them with custom arrangements, she said.

Some of their favorite customers are the young teenage guys who are buying flowers for the first time, Cooper said. They all enjoy guiding them through their flower purchase.

"You give them a blank card to write on and then they're looking at it like ... 'I've got to write something on this?'" Cooper said.

Young guys and men aren't the shop's only customers on Valentine's Day, though. High school girls and women also get in on the game.

Cooper said it isn't unusual for a woman to order an arrangement for her husband. Candy bouquets studded with Snickers and Twix are popular, and so are "manly" flower arrangements.

And what exactly makes a floral arrangement "manly"?

Anything with more masculine colors, such as deep reds and burgundys, according to the ladies. Buck figurines, cars and other guy friendly items such a beer nuts and hard hats also make their way into the arrangements.

Still, it's mostly men who stop in the store or call in an order for Valentine's Day, Cooper said. And it's mostly roses they order. The flowers are synonymous with the holiday, she said.

Some of the roses they have in for Valentine's Day are cool water lavenders, Caribbean oranges, Vendela whites and freedom reds. Red roses remain the most popular, Cooper said.

Shipments of many hundreds of roses came into Over the Rainbow this week. Most of the roses are grown in Ecuador, Cooper said. They're picked 24 hours a day, shipped to the United States, inspected and come to Wadena in refrigerated trucks.

Once they arrive in the shop, the stems are stripped of leaves and thorns and wired to keep the head stronger when its drinking water.

People say they don't buy flowers because they die, Cooper said.

"We always say the memory that comes with those flowers never dies," she said.

Cooper shared a story of a man who bought his wife of 50 years, who had Alzheimer's disease, a dozen yellow roses for Valentine's Day. They were in memory of the first Valentine's Day they shared after they were married when he gave her a dozen yellow roses because she was his best friend.

"He could tell by the look on her face that just for one minute she had come out of the Alzheimer's and she ... recognized the meaning of those yellow roses," Cooper said.

They get to share in a lot of special times in people's lives, she said. Some are happy like the birth of a baby and some are sad such as funerals.

"Flowers are a very emotional thing for people," she said.

Right now Over the Rainbow if filled with flowers. They will hire extra help to deliver to workplaces and schools all day Friday and homes all day Saturday.

"You work hard, but it's a fun holiday," Cooper said with a twinkle in her eye. "It's the month of love."