EVERY HOLIDAY... has its symbols, the iconic images that we can recognize in silhouette or outline in a newspaper ad or commercial. Valentine's Day has three, in our mind, though you might think of a few more: the rose, the box of chocolates, and the heart. Three nice things, truly, though the heart may be the nicest of all, seeing as how we all depend upon one. But do feel ever so slightly locked into the traditions of Feb. 14? Maybe not -- maybe you and your sweetheart do something nutty, like wallpaper the bathroom together each Valentine's -- but there's a way to keep close to the icons of the day without straying too far. Roses are very much about nature, but blooms that are love-worthy come in every stripe. And while it is lovely to have a giant bouquet sitting in your cubicle on Valentine's Day proper, there's something romantic about being out in nature, enjoying sunshine and flowers together as the lovingest day of the year draws near. In short, we adore the icons, but there are other adjacent-icons to appreciate, too. One bloom that is now getting its yearly due come mid-February is the aloe, and the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek pays tribute to it, lovers-style.
LOVERS' DAY ALOE TOURS: You and your honey are invited to stroll around the lush setting on the Saturday before Valentine's -- that's Feb. 8 -- and soak in some succulent-y sweetness. Hybrids "not found anywhere else in the world" and stunning blooms are what you'll take in, and you'll take in some hot beverages and treats, too. And those aloes? So much red going down you're reminded that roses don't have the patent on the color. Think of it as a way to celebrate a different bloom for Valentine's, and think of it as a grand gift if your special someone happens to be more about gardening than going out to a fancy dinner. Price? Ten bucks per adult.