American Beauty: The Rose Report

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American Beauty The Rose Report

American Beauty The Rose Report

The beloved American rose is a symbol of so many emotions and sentiments, yet it is an endangered flower. According to Janet Louie of Green Valley Floral in Salinas, Calif., exclusive U.S. growers of David Austin roses, domestic rose farming peaked in 1990 with approximate 300 commercial growers.

“In 2014 or 2015, I think there were about 26 of us left. Today, I’d say we’re a group of less than a dozen,” Louie maintains.

While those metrics could be viewed as discouraging, the silver lining to this narrative is the exceptional quality and romance of an American-grown rose in the eyes of consumers. Garden roses, hybrid tea roses and spray roses from U.S. flower farms present florists and designers an opportunity to tell a meaningful story with the homegrown stems they use.

Help with sourcing U.S-grown roses is one of the most frequent questions I am asked from Slow Flowers members around the country. As more florists seek domestic and local roses, farms and wholesalers are responding in kind, with better labeling and distribution programs.

Consider this report a designer’s source guide for American-grown roses. It’s based on more than 12 interviews with the most active rose growers in the country and includes farms that sell, deliver or ship to a national or regional customer base of retailers, wholesalers or wedding and event florists. These are the people whose talents and passion have kept American roses alive and available in the marketplace.

Rose Story Farm
(Carpinteria, Calif.) @rosestoryfarm

Twenty years ago, Danielle (Dani) and Bill Hahn expanded their family farm just south of Santa Barbara, adding 1,000 rose plants to property originally devoted to horses and groves of avocados and citrus trees.

Today, Rose Story Farm (RSF) is a boutique source for cut garden roses, with more than 25,000 field-grown old garden roses; old American hybrid tea roses; floribundas; German, French and Italian rose varietals; and David Austin shrub roses. In all, the farm grows and sells more than 120 rose varieties in a full color spectrum to florists and also wholesales full-grown rose plants to specialty cut flower growers.

Honored by the Great Rosarians of the World (GROW) in 2014, Dani is both passionate and devoted to popularizing fragrant heirloom roses in the floral trade. At the peak of rose season (late March through December), thousands of the farm’s roses are cut each day and shipped throughout the United States to mostly wedding and event florists who have RSF on their speed dial.

The farm survived last year’s Thomas Fire, but subsequent mudflows that followed took a toll on the farm. “We worked 20 years to build a flower farm that was in pristine condition and open to visitors,” she says. “That got wiped out in 15 minutes.”

The disaster forced Dani and Bill to suspend RSF’s farm tours and luncheons and close their on-site retail shop and nursery. Key staffer Patti Keck now handles direct-to-florists sales and marketing while Dani focuses on rose selection and consulting with residential rose gardens and small farms across the U.S. that want to add garden roses to their crop mix.

American Beauty The Rose Report

New for 2018, the farm has extended the use of its studio and cooler space to existing design customers for production or photography featuring RSF roses.

“Designers are able to schedule time to work at our farm, photograph their work in this beautiful location and, obviously, use our roses. Some will even be able to stay on the farm for a modest fee,” Dani explains. “Loyal florists have been buying our roses for years, and we see this as an opportunity to do something for them.”

For example, last month, longtime customer Amy Osaba of Atlanta-based Amy Osaba Design taught an intimate two-day master class there. It was the type of ongoing partnerships Dani hopes to continue with established customers several times each year.

While last year’s wildfires and mud slides presented huge challenges, Dani and her team are excited about RSF’s shift in focus. “Ironically with the ash and increased topsoil that washed down from the hills, our roses are better than ever,” she explains. “The direction that flower farming is taking in our country means we have to support each other. We want to make a minimal carbon footprint. And to do that, we have to be able to buy locally, sell locally and make sure more people hear about the Slow Flowers movement. By growing together, it creates more opportunities for everyone.”

How to order: Join the customer list at rosestoryfarm.com/contact or call (805) 566-4885. Quantities may be limited in some varieties.
Local customers: RSF flowers are available every Friday at Florabundance in Carpinteria, Calif., florabundance.com.

American Beauty The Rose Report

Green Valley Floral
(Salinas, Calif.) @greenvalleyfloralco.1973

Founded in 1945 as a carnation farm by Michael and Tomi Matsuno, Green Valley Floral produces more than 80 varieties of roses and holds the exclusive North America license to grow and sell the couture line of florist-grade roses bred by U.K-based David Austin Roses. The company maintains 16 acres of environmental greenhouses on two locations in California’s Salinas Valley, with nine acres devoted to growing garden roses, spray roses and garden sprays.

Twenty-eight years ago, Janet and Curtis Louie joined Janet’s parents in running Green Valley. They were newlyweds who promised to spend one or two years helping her parents. As it turns out, the couple loves the flower business, and they never left. “My father still works in the garden outdoors, and my mother still works in the rose grading room and runs the farmers’ markets for us now,” Janet says.

In addition to the 11 cultivars from David Austin, including romantic roses such as ‘Juliet’, ‘Patience’ and ‘Keira’, Green Valley grows a selection of garden-style roses from French, German and Dutch breeders. “From our perspective, ‘garden-style’ roses must have an unique shape, fragrance or scent, and unusual colors, such as the characteristics with the green heart rose called ‘Houdini’,” Janet says. “It won ‘Best in Class’ for garden roses, and in 2016, we won this class again with David Austin’s ‘Juliet’.”

Green Valley Floral has produced more than 100 winners in the past nine years of competition at the annual Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Outstanding Varieties Competition, including winning three “Best in Show” awards and five “Best in Class” awards.

American Beauty The Rose Report
The David Austin florist-grade roses grown in the U.S. by Green Valley Roses are often called “David Austin Wedding Roses,” seen here in a romantic bouquet, courtesy of David Austin Roses.

How to order: Green Valley Floral products are Certified American Grown labeled. The farm sells through wholesalers coast to coast. To place a direct order with Green Valley, customers must complete an application, available at greenvalleyfloral.us

Peterkort Roses
(Hillsboro, Ore.) @peterkortroses @normanpeterkort

The Peterkort family has grown hybrid tea roses, garden-style roses and spray roses for the floral trade since the 1930s. As a third-generation family farm, Peterkort produces more than 1 million roses annually, using sustainable practices such as biological insect control inside 14 active greenhouses located outside Portland, Ore.

In addition to a rose list of nearly 75 varieties, the farm also grows lilies and maidenhair fern, and, in recent seasons, added Ranunculus, Anemone, Freesia, Lisianthus and Celosia to its offerings.

In many ways, Norman Peterkort and his sister, Sandra Peterkort Laubenthal, are continuing the tradition of their grandparents, Joseph and Bertha Peterkort, who came to Oregon from Germany and started flower farming on a relative’s land in 1923. According to Sandra, Peterkort has shipped roses to wholesalers outside the Pacific Northwest since the 1940s. “Growing up, I remember my uncle driving boxes of roses to the Portland airport every Sunday. At one time, we were Northwest Airlines’ biggest Portland freight shipper.”

Today, when Peterkort ships roses, it is more likely to fill an order from a designer or florist with a resale license than from a wholesaler. The farm has a loyal following from florists who want to feature American-grown roses in their bouquets.

“Our roses are not uniform and perfect,” Norman points out. They have a lot of personality. Some of the garden roses weren’t originally bred for commercial production. So their stems are not going to be absolutely straight; some of them are a little curved, and the buds aren’t one big flower. Many designers prefer our roses because the slender stems are easier to use in bridal bouquets.”

Sandra manages Peterkort’s stall at the Portland Flower Market, continuing the farm’s presence there since 1942, when it was founded by a group of Oregon flower farmers, including her grandparents. The personal connection with local florists who shop at the market has inspired Peterkort’s designer-focused customer service. “We work to make sure that when florists order, we have the quantities they seek. We’re picky about color and describing a rose’s color because we know that’s important to wedding florists,” she says.

American Beauty The Rose Report
Designed by Allison Schreck of Portland-based Bramble Floral Design, the bridal bouquet and bridesmaids’ bouquets feature an array of roses from Peterkort.

How to order: Customers with a resale license can order by calling (503) 628-1005. See rose variety photographs and descriptions at peterkortroses.com.

Grace Rose Farm
(Santa Ynez, Calif.) gracerosefarm.com, @gracerosefarm

Grace Rose Farm launched in 2016, when Gracielinda Poulson began offering her garden roses to local floral designers in Southern California. “I’ve been growing roses all my life and sort of fell into growing them in the masses by friends telling other friends who are designers about my roses,” she explains.

“Two years ago, I opened an Instagram account and thought maybe we would grow some roses and sell hand-tied bouquets at farmers’ markets in Malibu and Santa Monica,” she says. “I just wanted to figure out a way to make a living growing flowers. I never realized I could be a grower for florists, too. Then event florists found us through Instagram and I never made it to a farmers’ market.”Her original backyard rose garden of 1,000 plants more than doubled when Gracie and her husband, Ryan, leased additional land near their home in California’s Ventura County. By the end of last season, the couple purchased a 10-acre ranch in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley and moved the business, allowing them to establish nearly 9,000 field-grown rose plants.Grace Rose Farm sells seasonally – May through mid-December – through its stall at the Los Angeles Flower Mart. The farm is in the process of establishing distribution relationships with wholesalers on the West Coast and key U.S. markets.

“We previously grew more than 100 varieties, but with the move to Santa Ynez, we found that for production and demand, there are certain roses our customers want,” Gracie says. “We are concentrating on what I call the ‘wedding colors,’ which include the blushes, ombres and tans. That includes 40 to 45 varieties of old-fashioned hybrid tea roses, floribundas and David Austin garden roses.”

American Beauty The Rose Report
Gracie Poulson of Grace Rose Farm holds an armload of ‘Princess Charlene of Monaco’ roses.

How to order: Visit gracerosefarm.com for availability and ordering details.

All My Thyme
(Mt. Vernon, Wash.) allmythyme.com, @allmythyme

Dawn Severin established All My Thyme 20 years ago as a wholesale culinary herb farm in Washington’s fertile Skagit Valley. It has since evolved into a five-acre boutique flower farm specializing in English garden roses, with 4,000 plants. Over the years, Dawn’s obsession for roses has far outpaced her love of herb plants. All My Thyme’s rose list has grown to include English garden roses, German-bred commercial cuts, climbers and rediscovered heirloom varieties.

As a go-to source for field-grown garden roses desired by wedding and event designers in the Pacific Northwest, Dawn selects varieties that portray the best characteristics for floral design. “I’m fascinated by how my customers capture the individuality and uniqueness of each rose stem, showing the character of my roses, the movement and the irregularity of garden roses,” she says.

In 2018, All My Thyme’s rose inventory grew to 140 varieties, and the farm added national shipping of cut roses in response to demand from florists outside the region. In addition, All My Thyme will begin selling potted rose plants to retail and wholesale customers via mail order beginning in 2019. The farm’s nursery inventory includes hard-to-find garden roses and the best rose varieties for cut flowers.

“I’m a plant nerd; I just love roses,” Dawn confides. “Cut blooms are beautiful, but I absolutely love the plant and its different stages of growth. Adding the nursery allows me to sell roses year-round as opposed to just being a seasonal farm.”

American Beauty The Rose Report
All My Thyme’s roses are featured in a lush compote arrangement designed by Dawn Severin with Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs.

How to order: Customers can sign up for a weekly availability list at allmythyme.com.

Local customers: Floral customers with a resale license may arrange to pick up cut flower orders at All My Thyme in Mt. Vernon, Wash. They can also tour the new English rose garden, which Dawn designed as a formal boxwood-lined display of all the farm’s varieties (by appointment only for wholesale customers). “This allows visitors to see the roses in a full color gradation. It also allows florists to see my roses in action,” she says.

American Beauty The Rose Report

More U.S. Rose Sources
California Pajarosa Floral
(Watsonville, Calif.) pajarosa.com, @california_pajarosa_floral
Founded in 1979, California Pajarosa Floral specializes in luxury cut roses for the floral trade. The farm produces garden-style roses, hybrid tea roses, spray roses and sweetheart rose varieties on a year-round basis. Florists and designers with a resale license can buy direct from the farm locally. California Pajarosa’s roses are available through wholesalers throughout the U.S. The farm also ships nationwide to retail and wedding/event professionals if it doesn’t supply a wholesale florist in their region or area. Floral products are Certified American Grown labeled.

Eufloria Flowers
(Nipomo, Calif.) eufloriaflowers.com,@eufloria.flowers
Eufloria Flowers’ American-grown premium roses are available year-round, including standard roses (Classic Collection), garden roses (Romantic Garden Collection), garden spray roses and standard spray roses. Eufloria sells to the public at its Nipomo nursery and through 16 area farmers’ markets throughout Central and Southern California. “This allows us to have direct contact with consumers, and we gain immediate feedback on our roses,” sales manager Chad Nelson explains. Eufloria’s roses are available through wholesalers throughout the U.S. and Western Canada. Retail and wedding/event florists can order direct if there are no current Eufloria wholesale distributors serving their market. Floral products are Certified American Grown labeled.

Fox Point Farms
(Encinitas, Calif.) foxpointfarms.com, @ fox_point_farms
Fox Point Farms is the grower-to-retailer (and event designer) division of Dramm & Echter, a commercial flower farm in San Diego County, founded 45 years ago. Second-generation farmer and president Bob Echter says the farm has grown roses since the 1970s and currently supplies spray roses, hybrid tea roses and garden spray roses to the floral trade. Fox Point Farms’ online site promotes domestic roses through the tagline “A Rose Less Traveled.” Florists with a resale license can establish an account and order direct from Fox Point Farms. Floral products are Certified American Grown.

Len Busch Roses
(Plymouth, Minn.) lenbuschroses.com, @lenbuschroses
Founded in 1965, Len Busch Roses is the only commercial cut rose grower in the Midwest, with 15 acres of cut flowers and flowering plant production under glass. The farm currently produces eight varieties of hybrid tea roses and 15 varieties of spray roses. According to Jason Lenz, director of business development, Len Busch Roses distributes about 10,000 stems of hybrid tea roses and spray roses each week direct to florists in North Dakota, South Dakota, Northern Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Len Busch brand has a loyal customer base, developed over the years through local marketing, promotion of an extensive florists’ directory on its website, and the tagline: Minnesota Grown. Wildly Fragrant. Floral products are Certified American Grown.

Neve Brothers Inc.
(Petaluma, Calif.) nevebros.com, @nevebros
Neve Bros. is family-owned and operated, with more than 60 years of growing experience, and it uses hydroponic, state-of-the-art greenhouse technology to produce a year-round supply of more than 80 varieties of hybrid tea roses, spray roses, garden-style roses and garden spray roses. Florists and designers with a resale license are able to buy direct from Neve Bros., at the farm’s Petaluma location and at its long-established San Francisco Flower Mart stall. According to Chris Neve, the farm ships direct to florists across the U.S. Interested parties should email roses@nevebros. com to request an availability list.

American Beauty The Rose Report
Inspired by the garden, this seasonal bouquet features roses from California Pajarosa Floral, designed by Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co. in Santa Cruz.