Harley Eskelund, Viking Roses:

"Before the official opening, farms are already fighting for budwood"

Danish breeding company Viking Roses, the sister company of Roses Forever, has moved locations. For many years, the testing took place in the Netherlands, but last year they moved to a new location in Nakuru, Kenya, which will officially open its doors in May. There are already 10 varieties in the assortment, and at the moment, 6 new commercial varieties will be added. Earlier this month, Harley Eskelund and John Pauw spent a week with growers in Kenya and were surprised to see the progress made by the breeders over the last few years.

Harley with the Kenyan team in the greenhouse

Interest in nostalgic types
"It was instructive to be with the growers for a week; understanding their wishes and requirements is important in our selection and breeding going forward," says Harley. He sees significant interest in the nostalgic types at the moment. "Every revolution (industrial in the past and now information/digital) is followed by renewed attention to, and appreciation of, nature. We see this with gardens today being an extension of the interior of the house. Garden roses and big, garden-type flowers are in high demand."

Rosa Loves Me In My Dreams, Under The Stars, Lost in Pink, Under a Majestic Sunrise. Click here to enlarge the image.  

Several new varieties caught the eye of the growers, among others: RLM® with Fatal Attraction; Just a Little Bit More; Paula's Champagne Delight; In My Dreams; Lost in Pink; Under the Stars; Under a Majestic Sunrise; and Beyond Venus.

New varieties
The current assortment of Viking Roses consists of 10 varieties, and  6 new commercial varieties are being added at the moment. Most of the new varieties are large-headed spray roses with full nostalgic flowers with a unique durability, Harley explains. "At our test farm, durability tests are carried out, together with old, well-known varieties, and to our great delight, the durability is at the top of the new ones; at least 14 days at the consumer." All in all, the growers were very surprised to see how much progress we had made in the last five years. 

In the test greenhouse

New trial location
So what does the new location look like? "It is located in Nakuru, and at the moment, we have 8 beds planted (200 varieties), and we want to keep it limited. We prefer efficiency over a larger surface area, and our selection is harsh."

The new location will officially open its doors to customers from May 2-4, 2023, and according to Harley, the first flush is looking promising. "Before the official opening, farms are already fighting for budwood." 

Some of the 'on the way' varieties in a vase test. Click here to enlarge the image.

Eager to see the varieties?
If you can't visit Viking Roses' open house in Kenya, they will also bring their varieties to the IFTF in Vijfhuizen, which will take place from November 8-10, 2023. 

For more information:
Viking Roses
John Pouw
Harley Eskelund 

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