This year I am taking a pretty big risk, followed my heart, and planted hundreds of garden roses in hope they produce abundant, healthy blooms that will be used in local weddings and events. My dream is for garden roses, and cut roses in general, can be more easily accessible and affordable locally than those imported from other countries.
You could call me a rose nerd, I love learning as much as I can about them, reading about new varieties and exploring their history and cultural significance. Once you get me started talking about roses, it's hard to get me to stop. In all honesty, I don’t think I have ever been so excited for something in my whole life - what I’m talking about is my first flush of roses that I’ll be able to sell from the farm. I have worked with roses in the past, at the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Gage Park rose garden in Hamilton and with Vineland Research’s rose breeding program, but this time I’m not growing roses for someone else, I am growing them for myself and all the people eagerly awaiting local rose blooms. Now that I am on my own rose growing journey I find myself looking back on all the amazing things that lead me to where I am. The road to growing roses has been a long one, and there have been countless ways roses have snuck their way into my life. I have had many amazing opportunities to learn from people in all areas ornamental horticulture and conventional agriculture that have inspired and pushed me to take the leap into cut flower farming.
I really cannot tell you how excited I am about this year. Since planting my roses you can find me everyday walking down the rows and checking their health, growth and making sure everything is going well for them. I like to think that integrated pest management is a specialty of mine and in my opinion, a very important aspect of growing roses, as with grapes (which I worked with extensively for the last 6 years), they require a keen eye and good management to produce healthy plants.
It took me a very, very long time to choose what roses to grow on the farm, I definitely have a rose buying problem and find it hard to not buy all of them. I planted roses in all shades of colours and that range in a variety of shapes and sizes, from a very full double bloom (100 + petals), to semi-double to single bloom. I have a lot of David Austin roses, which are renowned for their beauty, fragrance and disease resistance. I have also planted a lot of Kordes and Meilland roses (both are rose breeders) whose roses could rival those of David Austin, along with other beautiful roses such as the ever popular Koko Loko and even some rare heritage roses. I have tried to pick varieties that not only look and smell amazing, but are also hardy in my growing zone and are fairly disease resistant. The farm is as sustainable as possible and I plan on utilizing many techniques I have learned over the years to control mildew, pests and other problems. If you would like to learn more about our roses on the farm, or have any rose related growing questions feel free to ask away.
Below are some of the roses we will be growing on the farm. Clockwise: Bolero, First Crush, Evelyn, William Morris, Munstead Wood, Lichfield Angel.