Busy season at the rose farm

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Brian Wagner

Winter is here and we can certainly feel it when we start working early in the morning.

We can see it in the field, with the rose plants going dormant because of the cold and the frost, dropping all their leaves and flowers.

Winter is also the most intense season of the year for our rose nursery, which keep us very busy from May to September.

We dig out the bare root roses, we prune them, carefully select the best plants, label them, bury them in saw dust in alphabetical order and when all the plants are lifted and graded, we collate the orders, box the plants, and post them to our lucky customers.

This is not all, because at the same time we also must prepare the soil for the next year planting, lay plastic, and organise the pipes for the irrigation; every year we plant our roses in a different area of our property in Kalangadoo, to give the soil a rest after two years.

We also prepare rootstocks ready for next season’s budding, which first requires them to be ‘de-eyed’ – a highly specialised and labour-intensive task which prevents shoots forming below the graft.

It involves cutting out the small eyes from the bottom two thirds of each stick using a little knife, leaving the top one third of the plant with strong healthy eyes.

These ‘de-eyed’ rootstocks are then looked after in a specially prepared bed and nurtured carefully for some weeks, before being planted into the field to continue the development of their root system.

Come Spring, the budding process will begin on these new rootstock cuttings.

Last but not least, our thousands of potted roses need to be pruned too, to have a good rest before spring.

Several major tasks that need to be completed quickly and at once and organised according to the weather conditions too, with a great team that suddenly grows up to 20-25 employees.

This year is more challenging than ever, with the problem of staff shortage which is affecting every business in Australia.

We work long hours, often in the rain and in the mud and under a lot of pressure.

However, there’s a certain satisfaction seeing the hard work over the previous two years finally coming to fruition.

We are having an excellent season and the roses are looking great: healthy plants with a strong root system, ready to be planted in your garden and reward you with beautiful new flowers next spring.

We like doing things in the right season, respecting the natural growth of the plants.

Which is why our bare root roses are ready to be delivered from July only, and not earlier: we want them to develop a good and strong root system before we lift them.

This could not happen if our digging season started two months earlier.