Thursday, May 28, 2009

A rose "comes-a-calling"

One of the joys of my job is bringing new roses to our customers. Usually this involves travels to Europe, a few dinners, touring endless acres of rose gardens, a few more dinners and then decisions over nice glasses of wine. Tough work but someone has to do it! Sometimes however a great rose finds me right in my own backyard; in my case the nursery. Such was the case with a Kordes rose.

The nursery firm of Wilhelm Kordes & Sonne has been breeding roses a long time and are very good at hardy disease resistant varieties like Brother's Grimm (at left).

Quite a few years ago Germany (Where Kordes resides) began limiting and even banning the use of chemicals by the Ornamental Horticultural Industry. Wilhelm Kordes then banned them from his test fields - a move considered very risky by many but it makes him a hero to me. Keep in mind we are going back fifteen - twenty years, which was the the heyday of the fussy, spray a lot, cut flower Hybrid Tea.

I knew about Kordes Roses for years of course. Great classics like Dortmund that were as easy to grow as any roses I'd ever seen.

It was during a stint in The Netherlands judging the rose trials, that I finally had a chance to see so many of the new ones we didn't seem to have over here. Aprikola, Sterntaler (lower left -called Golden Fairy Tale in the U.S.) and Sangerhausen Jubilaumsrose (upper right -Floral Fairy Tale here) were just a few of the great roses I saw.

After the celebration dinner I approached Wilhelm Kordes, introduced myself as a fan of his roses and a nursery owner and asked if we could carry his roses in the United States. He took my card and much to my delight about a month later I got a letter saying yes, they were interested in licensing us to carry their roses including many of the new ones. They even agreed to send Mother Plants from Germany!

We've slowly been introducing them over the past few years and this season is our big push. One of my new favs is Cubana (lower right). I came upon this little gem last summer when I was wandering through the gardens. Or rather, it came upon me.

Unfortunately due to our financial situation I had not been able to hire the normal summer help to keep the beds weeded so they were pretty overgrown. Trish's sons would periodically go through with a weed-eater to cut the worst down but this particular bed was overdue.

Popping up above the Bermuda grass saying "here I am, pick me, pick me" was the bloom spray of Cubana that you see in the picture. I pulled back the weeds and saw the foliage was lush and dark green all the way to the base of the plant. I grabbed my secaturs, took some propagation material and we introduced it this past spring.

I love finding, testing and introducing new roses to our customers. And it's also a lot of fun when a great rose like Cubana finds me.

I might let the weeds grow up a bit this year as well to see what else comes-a-calling.

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