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New York Today: Where Did Your Roses Grow?

Good morning on this Valentine’s Day-Ash Wednesday.

It’s the biggest day of the year for roses.

We traced a bouquet from Manhattan’s flower district back to the source, and it turns out that behind the collective show of love is a feat of logistics.

It began last summer, at a flower farm around 9,000 feet above sea level, in the mountains of Ecuador, when a rose bush began to show buds, said Stephen Faitos, who runs Starbright Floral Design, a small shop in the flower district.

About six months later, those buds were poised to bloom, and the farm opened an online auction in which florists across the world — including Starbright Floral Design, which Mr. Faitos runs with his father — could bid on the blossoms.

The roses were then cut, setting the countdown clock ticking on their 19-day life span.

They traveled by truck along winding mountain roads to Quito, were packed onto a cargo plane and flown to Miami, inspected by customs and United States Department of Agriculture officials, and flown that same day at La Guardia Airport.

Starbright’s drivers were waiting there with a refrigerated truck and chauffeured them into Manhattan, where they joined some 40,000 flowers from around South America that the shop had ordered for Valentine’s Day.

They included two dozen colors; 12 shades of red alone.

The roses were all a little tired-looking from the journey, the florists said, so workers spent the next few days nursing them back to health — hydrating, cleaning and preening them before arranging them into $100 dozens to be delivered to New Yorkers.

Just another step in their journey.CreditMichelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Perhaps, to you.

Now, they have about a week before they wilt — seven days is the typical postsale life expectancy of a rose. “Most flowers, you’re just enjoying the beauty of its death,” Mr. Faitos told us.

Still, they’ve made it this far.

Here’s what else is happening:

Weather

Mild and lovely, with a high of 50.

But grab an umbrella. It may rain later this evening.

In the News

In the first State of the City Speech of his final term, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged that by the time he leaves office New York would be the fairest city in the country. [New York Times]

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered the first State of the City address of his second term on Tuesday in Brooklyn, pledging to make New York the “fairest big city in America.”CreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

A federal lawsuit is challenging the Trump administration by arguing that marijuana should be legal under federal law. [New York Times]

Bob Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive, announced he was running for the Republican nomination in New Jersey for the Senate seat held by Robert Menendez. [New York Times]

Ahmad Khan Rahimi, the man responsible for building and planting the bomb that exploded in Manhattan in 2016, was sentenced to two life terms. [New York Times]

For the second time in two months, a federal judge issued an injunction that ordered the Trump administration to keep the DACA program in place. [New York Times]

As DreamYard Preparatory, a once failing high school, makes significant improvements, school officials want to ensure that they sustain its progress. [New York Times]

At DreamYard Preparatory high school in the Bronx, the school day was extended by an hour. During the extra hour, students work on academics three days a week, and twice a week they experiment with professional and vocational possibilities that interest them.CreditGregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

A police sergeant who fatally shot a mentally ill woman took the stand, telling the court that he tried to prevent her from picking up a pair of scissors. [New York Times]

Despite a large housing stock, there is still a low vacancy rate throughout the five boroughs, a new report from New York City Housing Preservation and Development shows. [Metro New York]

Inside one of Bushwick’s only remaining tortilla factories. [Bushwick Daily]

For the second year in a row, Jersey City has been named the most diverse city in the country, the financial services website WalletHub has found. [NJ.com]

Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “Hands Full

For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Morning Briefing.

Coming Up Today

New York Road Runners hosts a singles jog and mixer at the RunCenter in Midtown. 6:30 p.m. [Free]

See Alan Cumming perform in “Many Fathoms Deep,” a Valentine’s Day show of song, spoken word and cabaret, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side. 7 p.m. [Tickets start at $75]

Celebrate love with laughs at “Looking for Love in All the Love Places” or “Be Mine: Improvisers and Their Real-Life Valentines,” at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Hell’s Kitchen. 8 and 9:30 p.m. [$9]

… Or at a Valentine’s Day stand-up comedy showcase at Q.E.D. in Astoria, Queens. 9 p.m. [$10]

Looking ahead: On Thursday morning, “Exerskate,” a fitness class for experienced skaters, on the rink at Bryant Park in Midtown. 8 a.m. [Free]

Nets host Pacers, 7:30 p.m. (YES). Knicks host Wizards, 7:30 p.m. (MSG).

Alternate-side parking is suspended.

For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.

And Finally…

The overlap of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday may cause a quandary for some.

A frequent sight today.CreditAndrew Renneisen/Getty Images

Still, many observant Catholics in the city will be wearing ash crosses on their brows.

Have you ever wondered where the ash came from?

We put that question to the Archdiocese of New York, which oversees St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and nearly 300 other congregations around the city.

“The ashes are derived from the remaining palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service,” said Mercedes Lopez-Blanco, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

“The fronds of the palms are burned,” a process that takes place offsite — sometimes as far away as Florida — where they are incinerated in an open fire, collected and shipped back to the city.

Before today’s ceremony at St. Patrick’s, the sacristan, or church preparer, prepared 25 plates of ash. The ashes were to be blessed by the priest at 7 o’clock this morning, just before Mass.

About 50,000 New Yorkers receive ashes from the cathedral on Fifth Avenue each year, Ms. Lopez-Blanco told us, and the archdiocese is expecting a similar turnout today.

The message that comes with the cross: “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return.”

New York Today is a morning roundup that is published weekdays at 6 a.m. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.

For updates throughout the day, like us on Facebook.

What would you like to see here to start your day? Post a comment, email us at nytoday@nytimes.com, or reach us via Twitter using #NYToday.

Follow the New York Today columnists, Alexandra Levine and Jonathan Wolfe, on Twitter.

You can find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.

Alexandra S. Levine contributed reporting.

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