When the scent of roses fills the air

IT is that time of year again, when if not love, certainly the scent of roses, is in the air. Men everywhere are under pressure not only to show their love for their girl, but to show it in a way that everyone in the office knows about it too, by the sizeand quality of the bouquet that arrives in reception.

Since Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday this year, Miss Mia Stradmoor, manager of the Flower Shop at the Mandarin said: ''We are expecting a lot of orders to be placed for delivery on the Saturday, as girls like to show off their bouquets to friends and colleagues at the office.'' In fact this showing off is taken very seriously according to Mr William Lai, manager of Mitty Florist at the Excelsior.

''Most girls, if they do not have a boyfriend, will organise flowers for themselves,'' Mr Lai said.

It is also worth noting that the Chinese do not give a dozen flowers, they give 11, as they believe the sender is the twelfth flower, therefore the sender gives him or herself to the receiver, and hence is a true sign of their love.

Men should also be wary when deciding what colour rose or flower to send, when trying to be a little different.

''One young man sent his girlfriend pink roses, however, the girlfriend took this to mean that she was either second best or his second girlfriend, since pink is a paler shade of red,'' Mr Lai said.

So be warned.

The cost of true love will of course depend on what flower is chosen and how many are sent.

The Flower Shop at the Mandarin will be selling a dozen roses (all colours) for $780 and with baby's breath for $890, and for a single rose in a box with or without baby's breath for $125.

All their flowers come from either Holland or California and are presented in beautiful paper box packaging which is free of charge.

This packaging has been specially designed for the Mandarin by Hongkong designer Alan Chan, and gives an extra special finishing touch to the all round presentation.

As well as the boxes which come in either white or gold with maroon bows, there is also a cut flower carrier available in gold.

Mitty Florist at the Excelsior will be selling a dozen roses with or without baby's breath for $600 up, and a single rose in a box for $180.

All their roses come from South America and bouquets will be presented in posy style with a ribbon bow.

Another alternative of course is a local flower stall. Secrete Reminder, a flower stall located in D'Aguilar Street is selling a dozen roses with or without Baby's Breath for $380, and a single rose in a box for $70.

It is worth noting that prices between February 10 to 14 will be more expensive, and in most cases double the normal price.

Florists will obviously try and satisfy most requests.

''Even if a customer wants us to go out and buy a Valentine card for delivery with the bouquet, we will do this,'' Mr Lai said.

''We even had a pilot deliver a crystal vase, and another pilot, a friend of his, deliver us the flowers from Singapore. We then sent both the flowers and vase to the girlfriend.'' ''We had a request from a man overseas whose girlfriend lived in Hongkong, for 50 red roses with the message 'Will You Marry Me', and she said yes,'' Ms Stradmoor said.

But, not only men will be busy ordering flowers. Attitudes are changing and the percentage of women giving flowers to men continues to rise and currently accounts for two per cent of flowers bought on Valentine's Day.

All florists advise you telephone your order through at least one week in advance.