Interflora is no longer smelling of roses after claims that its Valentine's Day 'Ultimate Love Bouquet' isn't, as originally billed, grown mainly in the UK.
The bouquet - which is endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) - costs nearly £200, and was originally claimed to be 60 percent British. However, questions were raised when British growers noticed that the Union Jack-labelled stems included chrysanthemums, myrtle and white hyacinth - all varieties that can't be grown in the UK at this time of year.
"Interflora has really shot themselves in the foot by claiming their flowers are British-grown," grower Gill Hodgson of The Flower Farm in York told Horticulture Week.
"And the RHS are the main British gardening organisation and they should be promoting British growers and not endorsing a product that appears to be predominantly imported. To see the RHS championing scentless flowers mass-produced in Holland is soul-destroying."
Interflora has now removed all reference to the origin of the flowers from its website, and blames its own florists for the misleading claims.
"Our network of florists are all independent and therefore ultimately have control and responsibility for sourcing their own stock. Therefore, to avoid being misleading in any way we decided to remove the Union Jack icons from the website."
But the RHS has come in for its fair share of criticism too, with its Twitter account deluged with complaints. "If the RHS don't get it, then what chance for [the] public?" tweeted one. "I'm so appalled I could cry," added another. Several British growers say they've cancelled their RHS membership in disgust.
In response, the RHS says that it, too, has now removed references to the bouquet being British grown, and adds: "We do do much to promote seasonal and British flowers, and appreciate concerns re. the bouquet."
However, the whole affair may turn out to be a storm in a flowerpot: the bouquet is now listed as out of stock.