Did You
Know?
Black Baccara is the darkest rose available.
The Golden Rose of China
April 29, 2006
All the roses we grow commercially are hybrids - a cross between two species. By this time in the rose world, the new varieties are crosses of crosses of crosses, going so far back in time nobody really knows what species they started with.

I read recently that the famous "Peace" rose by Meilland, from the 1940s, has incomplete parentage; even the breeder doesn't know exactly its background.

The species roses are the parents - and I guess now that DNA testing is becoming so common we will be able to find out some answers to these parentage questions - do roses have an Eve - like the "Mitochondrial Eve" we hear so much about these days???? Do roses even have mitochondria?????

Here is Rosa hugonis, "Father Hugo's Rose," otherwise known as the Golden Rose of China. I bought this plant a couple of years ago and still haven't figured out where to put it.

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How does it differ from today's popular hybrids? 1) It has only a single set of petals; 2) The leaves are tiny and have more than 5 leaflets; 3) It is completely deciduous - the leaves come off in fall and grow back in spring. Most hybrids I know keep at least some of their leaves all year, even when dormant. Plus 4) It only blooms once, in the spring, not all summer.

So looking at this rose, if I were a breeder, what would I want - the yellow color, maybe the plant habit - it could be a climbing rose parent since it grows lanky and can be espaliered. I would cross it with a double flowering variety and one that blooms continually.

But you can't predict the outcome of a cross. I don't know if rose breeders still cross back to the original species...too much trial and error?

Lush Places
April 28, 2006
Went out to the farm as usual on Thursday but had to rush back to Portland to do the carpool. But before I went I was able to pause for a few minutes and watch the bees working to pollinate the holly trees, a ferocious buzzing, with the compost heap in the background.

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Inside the greenhouse the lilies are blooming and we had some for market today, just Asiatics so far in red and orange. A lot of buds forming.

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The guys were working to pull up the wire that keeps them standing upright.

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I checked on the two varieties of red garden type roses I picked up so we could test them. Norm plunked them into hydroponic buckets, pots and all, plugged in some drippers and set them on the gutter which collects the excess water. They are growing and starting to form some buds.

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And the Prestige, the new red rose, is growing and some early flowers are blooming. We cut those off and bend over the stems to encourage the formation of a leaf canopy and eventually some nice long-stemmed roses.

That's the farm report for this week!

Wedding Season Has Begun
April 27, 2006
One of the fun things about my job at the flower market is working with florists who are doing weddings. It is so interesting to hear about dress colors, see swatches, and try to figure out flowers pictured in hopelessly photoshopped magazine layouts.

As Josh who put together our web site says diplomatically, "the photos were intensively photoshopped, and not in the best way."

Here are some pictures from a wedding Joan and Ita at Flower Dance did last year. The orange rose is Spicy, and there are also some Prima Donna, Akito and Supergreen in the bouquet.

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Orange is still looking big for weddings. We have Spicy, and a new one called Naranja, plus the spray rose Springtime which are all orange.

Check out these kids from the same wedding - love the orange shoes!

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Happy Earth Day!
April 24, 2006
Saturday was Earth Day - I remember being a junior or senior in high school and working on an Earth Day program... Now I am doing my part by recycling orchid tubes at the flower market... Which means washing them and sending them back to the greenhouse to be re-used. Not very exciting but it does re-use them and also saves us money.

I took a couple of photos of my Valerie and Wendy vase display since all the flowers opened up so beautifully. Valerie is a pink sweetheart, and Wendy is a white spray.

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I like it when a rose opens up and you can see the stamens in the center. In the case of Wendy there are hundreds of tiny little petals and just a tiny stamen cluster in the center. Valerie opens up and looks like a wild rose!

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Norm has returned from his trip to California to visit other growers and meet with the research committee of the International Cut Flower Growers. (He's the chairman.)

We also sold our very first bunch of lilies today! Purchased at the market by Keith of Beaverton Florist. They were burgundy asiatics. It's exciting that our lilies are going to be in production for Mother's Day.

That reminds me, if you are going to order things from us for Mother's Day, let us know what you want right away - it's looking like a busy time...

My Day at the Farm, Plus Plants as Meditative Aids
April 21, 2006
Phew! Yesterday I was out in Hillsboro all day at the farm, covering the phones & miscellaneous chores while Norman is gone. It was busy - phone ringing, faxes, employees with questions, checking the orders for the next day's market, watering the lilies. The ladies in the grading room brought me some wonderful chicken in mole sauce with rice and tortillas, yum, that kept me fueled for the afternoon.

We don't have any timers or anything fancy on the lilies yet so watering them consists of turning on valves. We have lilies in all stages of growth, from the oldest ones which are forming nice buds to new ones, just breaking through the coconut fiber after being planted.

In the plant world, lilies are in the "monocots" which is one group of flowering plants. They have a single seed leaf (cotyledon) and have leaves with parallel veins. Iris and narcissus (and I think orchids) are in this category. Roses are in the "dicots" group, have net veined leaves and two seed leaves.

When you look at the lilies especially in the following picture it is easy to see their regular, mathematical structure, much easier than with the roses which are more complex. I find looking at pictures such as this very soothing.

Crystals, music and flowers are appealing to the brain because there is something mesmerizing about their structure.

Plants and flowers are more rewarding than crystals because they are more complex; the brain can still see that there is an underlying formula or structure to their makeup but it isn't as obvious so it is more interesting.

I find this similar to music - Bach has a certain structure that the brain naturally responds to intuitively. As does all music, as long as it has a beat and takes place in key...

So much for the deep philosophy of the week!

So, let's contemplate this picture.....Om!!

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A Busy Wednesday
April 19, 2006
What happened? Suddenly we had a REALLY busy Wednesday. Primitivo and I were scrambling to make sure everybody got their order quickly and, especially important, the right thing. I don't like to take flowers out to the parking lot unless they've been seen and approved first. But sometimes we have to amp it up. Like today!

Norm has gone to California for the cut flower growers' conference. He is visiting other greenhouses and looking at new flower displays from the breeders. That makes us extra busy too since we run pretty lean out at the greenhouse... But it's worth it to keep learning about flower growing. And I gave him a list of things that I want him to look for! Bossy big sister!

Ruth and Ken N. who provide monthly birthday cakes for the grower's market are getting ready to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary!!!! They were both interned during World War II, Ken served in the military, and now they give school talks about the internment experience. Congratulations - what a milestone......

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As this picture illustrates the lilies are growing taller out in the greenhouse. It's exciting to have this new venture. We are hoping to have some by Mother's Day or maybe earlier. I also picked the first Lily of the Valley of the season and sold two bunches this morning. It wasn't a lot but I wanted to be the first in the market with it. It's like having the first tomato in your neighborhood!

Time to enjoy the sunshine and forget the months of rain that are past....

Teaser - New Roses...
April 14, 2006
My latest fave new roses for planting this year...but no names because we're still not sure.

BUT...here is a lovely pink garden rose...we already have Yves Piaget, Waltzertraum and Biedermeier which are various shades of pink but this one is a pale pink and the most enchanting red stripey bud. I saw it at the Hortifair in November and told Norm - we MUST have it...our customers are clamoring for more of these...

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In a more traditional shape but a departure in two tone combos, this secret treasure is pink on the inside of the petal and red on the back. My pictures aren't very good but it's one of those roses you think about and get slightly obsessed with. Our friend Teun at the Hortifair told me 'I dare to recommend it' and that's pretty good for a Dutchman. So we dare to plant it. And we dare you to buy it!!!!

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And this one is a lovely white scented delicate rose with a bit of pink and cream tint. A VERY rosy, fruity scent somewhat like Lavande but a little more rosey.

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There may be more but this is a teaser...Have a good weekend!!!!

Last Week of Cymbidium Special
April 13, 2006
Our ten-stem cymbidium special will end on Saturday, April 15. We are offering pink and white cymbidiums at a special price. Call at (503) 628-1005 to order.

I made a nice springtime centerpiece for my table in a vintage pink ceramic vase I picked up at a garage sale. It contains a bunch of Sweet Akito roses and a compact stem of a pale pink cymbidium.

A nice Easter arrangement.

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Progress on Prestige in Greenhouse
April 10, 2006
Wow! The Prestige - a beautiful new red rose - which we planted in March is growing well. It will be a couple of months before we can begin to see flowers. This rose has strong stems, a big head with lots of petals, and a beautiful rich red color. I took this picture last Thursday when I was out at the farm.

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Gave a tour to Francoise (of Francoise Weeks) and Catherine (of Sugars) who are both floral designers specializing in weddings and events in Portland. We checked out the cymbidiums which are at the height of bloom right now, and wandered around the greenhouse.

Leanne of the Floral Design Institute leaked to me today that she will be sponsoring a First Thursday floral design art competition on Thursday, June 1. That's National Rose Month according to my calendar from Alderbrook Gardens. I'm looking forward to seeing what glorious creations people will come up with this year. Last year's was fantastic.

Never-Ending Projects
April 7, 2006
It seems like when you own a small business the projects and work never stop. I was talking about that with Francoise at the market today. You have to do it all, and it's a lot of responsibility.

Some of the things we're working on right now: a new product (lilies!), installing new electric service for more lights, buying new rose plants for this year's plantings, testing varieties for the future, finishing up the web site, starting to work on a web site for the flower market, and I'm sure Karen, Norman and Steven have a huge list of things I don't even know about.

Karen, working in the huge cymbidium collection with thousands of plants, has to cope with repotting them. It's like painting the Golden Gate bridge. By the time you finish with it the ones you did first need repotting again. She's still trying to get the varieties grouped together, which is difficult because they only bloom once a year.

The good thing about projects though is that they give you a feeling of accomplishment when you finish them. So many jobs on the farm are really never done, like disbudding etc. The plants are out there quietly growing. Only in the spring they grow so fast it's surprising it doesn't make a sound!!!! Maybe if you listen VERY carefully????

Springtime II
April 6, 2006
My ever-faithful dog Sunny loves the farm. Even though we live in Portland, I go out there a couple times each week to work on bookkeeping, hang out with Mom and Dad, and exercise the dog.

Here she is with the last remaining flowering almond tree. There used to be about 8 of them, but one by one they succumbed to old age, wind and just plain being too warm-blooded for Oregon.

This year was especially bad. Three or four of them went down. Now Mom has a great supply of lichen-encrusted firewood, but the beautiful row is gone.

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Springtime at the Farm
April 5, 2006
Image hosting by PhotobucketThe road into the farm is very inviting right now. The flowering cherry trees, planted and grafted by Dad 20 years ago, are fluffy with bloom. In a while the petals will begin to fall and blow across the driveway in a pale pink flurry...
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