KB Farms has a long history with roses and their President Robert Kitayama has probably caught his hand on his fair share of their thorns over the years. Robert was asked to share a little bit about the rose, its history with KB Farms and its strong connection to the Valentine’s Day holiday. Check out what he had to say below.
I was asked to write a few thoughts on roses for Valentine’s Day. I usually don’t recommend roses for Valentine’s Day since they are a bit cliché, but you can’t deny roses are the queen of flowers. Once upon a time, they were my favorite flower. As far as beauty, fragrance, and meaning they are hard to beat. I was so fond of them that my oldest daughter’s middle name is Rose.
KB Farms and roses
My love of roses comes from a time when KB Farms was the largest rose grower in the US. We had about 5 million sq ft of greenhouse roses between 3 locations in California and Colorado. Every Valentine’s Day was a marathon 3-week period of working 16 hours days. We would cut and pack thousands of bunches of roses, old-timers will remember varieties such as Cara Mia and Kardinal, which both had the sharpest and worst thorns of any roses. Honestly, January-February is the worst times of year to grow roses, low sunlight, mildew, botrytis, high heating, and labor costs, don’t make growing roses for the faint of heart. If your holiday timing was off, with a too early or too late a crop, your whole year would be ruined.
I was the one who made the decision to pull out the last rose plant at KB Farms back in 2013. It wasn’t a hard decision; our growing costs had risen above our average selling price. The roses currently available on the market are bigger and come in a much larger array of colors and varieties than when we grew them. Roses are truly international, the roses you see this Valentine’s Day come from the US, Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mexico, Holland, and many other countries. I admire rose growers no matter where they are located because I am aware of the work it takes to grow beautiful roses. But here is my recommendation for this holiday, mix your flowers.
Mix it up
A dozen red roses from the grocery store is safe, but not very creative. If you want to “up your game”, mix it up. To some roses add some oriental lilies, gerberas, snapdragons, mini callas, kale, stock or any of the flowers we have here at KB Farms, you will get a much better response. Oh, and my new favorite flower is the gardenia. Try giving that flower to a loved one, they will forget roses…
While KB Farms no longer grows roses here in California we do keep a critical eye on the ones that we import for our customers to ensure a great quality product. We source the highest quality roses from premier farms in Ecuador. Ecuadorian roses are well known for being high quality, with large heads and stems, cut at just the right cut stage for import and distribution.
Many of the roses we sell are pre-booked for the holiday we keep plenty in stock for our local customers and in addition to being available to walk-in customers, we can deliver to local florists in water.