Posts Tagged “flower farms”
Each year Mayesh Wholesale Florist has a trip in which all managers take part in. One year, the managers took a trip to our Detroit and Cleveland branches and last year we all met up in Miami for the WF&FSA Conference. This year, between all the different departments, we had about 35 people converge in Los Angeles, California to kick off this year’s meeting. We then had the pleasure of traveling to the Oxnard, Carpinteria, and Lompoc areas to tour a few of our farms that we buy flowers from. I’ve only been to a couple of farms/growers before and never had I the opportunity to go to a California flower farm so I was super excited, to say the least. A special thank you to the growers who were great hosts to our large group!! I can’t speak for everyone, but this was such a great learning opportunity and I am so thankful!
I realize that many do not have this insider opportunity, so I captured a few short Instagram videos and many photos to share with you. It is so easy to forget that the flowers that find themselves in your floral designs – a centerpiece for a dinner table or a bridal bouquet – was planted, grown, hand picked, hand packed, cooled, etc before even reaching Mayesh facilities. These precious blooms pass through many caring and passionate hands that I think is often taken for granted. Below are a few super short video clips that I think will help all of us keep in mind all of the hard work that goes into our flowers.
Here’s an Instagram video of how stock is harvested:
This video is of pumpkin branches being sleeved inside a cooler:
Here is an example of how your California grown gerberas are harvested. The yellow stuff is like giant fly paper to catch any of the flying insects trying to get to the blooms:
The very last part of this snippet shows iris bulbs being planted:
And here are a few pictures from my trip:
Guest Blogger: David Dahlson
Last night was the last large load to go out for Valentine’s Day 2013. From hence forward the roses move to various destinations in the USA where it will be the turn of wholesalers, distributors and their clients to work the long hours. My work with regard to the holiday is pretty much done. Yesterday and today I spent visiting two distinct aspects of Ecuador; the old and traditional as well as the new and modern, which I shall write about in the next few days. I also went to a few farms, and was particularly struck by one plantation that is growing Eryngium Alpinum and Ranunculus.
The Eryngium is a new hybrid that has very stout stems, with upwards of four flowers per stem. When the flower is mature it displays a remarkably strong, deep indigo blue inflorescence with deeply cut ornamental bracts. According to the grower the vase life is excellent, with up to two weeks in the vase after it is received by the florist. Eryngium is originally an Alpine flower grown at fairly high altitudes, and in this environment in Ecuador where they are grown outdoors, the plants look very healthy. The flower is also very attractive in an immature state with green flowers and bracts that are lighter green striped with an almost white hue in the middle of the bract. This product looks very appealing and Mayesh should be seeing some samples some time in March.
At this same farm, they are also producing Ranunculus which also look like an attractive product and they will have year round production. They use bulbs imported from Biancheri in San Remo, Italy, and the flowers that I saw in the greenhouse show promise of being a very useful item for the USA markets especially when the Californian growers are done for the season. The color palette is broad, but largely focused on pastel colors, as well as red, purple and hot pink. These will be available as the California season comes to a close in April.
At this farm, the grower showed me some new rose varieties that had an interesting twist: Most of the modern rose varieties used for cut flowers are developed by breeders located predominantly in Holland and Germany, however an Ecuadorian breeder called Santiago Brown has started breeding roses in Ecuador. So far the roses that I have seen are not that striking, although they seem to be very strong. One that is pictured here called “Nina”, is a superior upgrade to the old Red Unique, with very long stems. It is currently very popular in Russia.
So there it is, another holiday passing by, and I am none the younger for it. However, I think I may be a little wiser and that is a good thing. Certainly, I have found it useful to keep an open mind on all things that cross my path. In closing this post, it seems poignantly appropriate to end with an image of the tractor hauling Mayesh’s roses to the airport, a truck that the owner has aptly named “Seductor” or in English “Seducer”!!
Blogger: David Dahlson
When is a florist not a florist?
When he grows over sixty acres of flowers in Ecuador.
When is a grower not a grower?
When he produces beautiful hand-tied bouquets in the European style for sale in the USA.
At Bellaflor, in the small but rapidly growing town of Puembo, in what will shortly become the suburbs of a virulently growing Quito, they have been producing a wide selection of attractive cut flowers for many years now. Because they are at a lower elevation than most of the rose farms, Bellaflor produces a rose with a somewhat smaller head than is typical, and I would say that in many cases not so vulgar. They also grow beautiful gypsophila, as well as wide array of other flowers including chrysanthemum, veronica, amaranthus, lysimachia and molucella to name a few. Recent introductions include succulents, senecio cineraria and variegated mini-pittisporum (niger). For many years they have been producing export quality flowers, but the owner Hans Peter Hug, was forever lamenting the discarding of perfectly good flowers that were too short to meet export criteria. This where the European florist within Hans Peter’s personality prompted an examination of the marketplace and how these shorter stems could be better put to use.
Hans Peter Hug is originally from Switzerland where he received training in floral design, and as a young man moved to London in the sixties to be where the action was. He worked as a florist in Hendon, about 5 miles from where I grew up, and it could be I passed him on the way to the bowling alley in Hendon, one never knows. Peter eventually found his way to Ecuador where he started a small growing operation, while I travelled to Los Angeles. A little known fact is that Hans Peter did the landscaping at Florecal in his early days in Ecuador!
For me personally, Hans Peter is a wonderful spirit in our industry and his passion is incandescent, a trait sorely lacking in the flower business. He really knows about flowers, and also understands their peculiar magic. Yet his passion is founded on a platform of flower design and methodology that is peculiarly European and involves various economies in one’s work and one’s art. The economy that is required to be successful in a flower business is one of not wasting anything, but rather seeing all organic materials as having potential for design, and in turn generating revenue. I can see in my mind’s eye to this day a floral presentation some twenty years ago by Rene van Rems, a dutch designer residing in California. He was cleaning a stem of Aster Nova-belgii, and pointing out that all the lower laterals, although short, could be used for other work; and that by cleaning from the bottom-up, rather than by stripping the flowers from the top down (as is so often the case in many American shops), you would gather enough material to contribute to several other arrangements, thereby increasing the potential for profit. He highlighted this fact by telling the audience that as a student his teacher would rap him across the knuckles if any flowers, however short, fell to the floor!
Thus, in this same thrifty tradition, Hans Peter Hug decided to start using this shorter material to make rather petite posies and small bouquets. For several years, he was met with stout resistance from the American floral marketplace, but today is shipping thousands of delightful, charming and casual posies into the USA. But in contrast to most bouquet operations, Hans Peter has managed to not only teach his predominantly female staff to correctly bunch the stems in a spiral and hand-tie all the bunches (no rubber bands in sight!); but also instill charm and whimsy into every bouquet, a feat that is very difficult. Of course one of the main keys to this is to have a wide array of materials at hand to create these items, an obstacle that Hans Peter Hug has no problem with. And he continues to search for new items that can be grown in his micro-climate, in order to have a menu of blooms and foliages that can be combined in an endless array of possibilities. What is particularly impressive and noteworthy is that during all of the rush of Valentine’s Day, his team was able to produce, obviously mass-produce, these items and yet retain an attractive simplicity that is quite beguiling.
I know this to be true from seeing the results, some of which are pictured here, and then learning that Hans Peter was off skiing in Switzerland with his family.
He continues to grow wonderful floral items for the professional designer, and at Mayesh they present many of Bellaflor’s items on a daily basis, as the company still strives to produce wonderful items for the professional floral designer. Of late they have introduced several kinds of senecio cineraria, or Dusty Miller, as well as the classic “Iceberg”, a floribunda rose developed by Kordes in 1958 that is fabulous for wedding work.
Look out for the brand, and ask a Mayesh sales associate about their flowers and availability.
Just so you know, I have been in the wholesale flower industry for over thirty years now, and I can tell that in these holidays my body does not bounce back like it used to. In fact I don’t think it bounces at all anymore, and it is with some effort that I get from horizontal back to vertical, and from cold back to warm. Nonetheless the task at hand needs to get done, and thus it is onwards and upwards. The last of our large shipments goes out tomorrow which means only one more grueling, cold night in the coolers….honestly I am beginning to feel like a frozen McNugget!!
Incredibly the flowers keep coming and coming, although there now seems to be a slowing of production. I know this because the flow of trucks coming into the cargo agency was rapid and swift, as they had less to unload, because most orders have been completed. Mayesh still had a very large load to be prepare for shipment, and there will be a similar amount tonight.
The imperturbable phytosanitary inspectors continue their work, and it seems that no-one is immune from their microscopic examinations. Last night all of Mayesh’s David Austin roses from RosaPrima were rejected because of a Thrips infestation. This is amazing because RosaPrima is one of the best rose farms in Ecuador if not the world and their post-harvest protocols amongst the best, and yet the ubiquitous Thrip seems to be everywhere. The action also tells me that the inspectors appear to be very impartial and indiscriminate; which, while extremely annoying last night, does speak to their professionalism which in the long run can only be good for the industry.
At the airport the congestion has all but disappeared with most boxes getting out of Ecuador this morning. All in all the oversaturation woes of the logistical side of the Valentine season that I outlined earlier have finally abated. Everything has moved out or is palletized ready to leave, and even Lanchile is operating as normal.
Stepping back to look at the big picture, I earnestly hope that all segments of the cut flower industry, especially growers, wholesalers and florists, do well as the amount of time, effort, hard work and goodwill that is expended in the V-Day season is a testament to the human spirit and I hope it translates into substantial remuneration for all concerned.
Last night was the mother of cold, wet Valentine’s Day shipping days. This was the peak day of the 2013 event and the rose farms in Ecuador are trying to fulfill all their orders. Trucks have had to make three or four trips from farm to Quito and back again, and cargo agencies were receiving flowers well into the wee hours of the morning. Almost all cargo vehicles are rented out at this time, so some growers are sending flowers in pick-ups in which boxes of expensive roses are swathed in plastic to protect from the rain. Personally, I reject any flowers arriving in this condition, as they have no cooling and little protection. Speaking of rain, the heavens finally opened on a dry, parched Ecuador that has not had any precipitation in over two months and has continued to rain non-stop from yesterday morning until now, and the weather forecast calls for several days of the same. This of course will engender another set of problems for growers, including an onslaught of fungal issues including botrytis and mildew.
The last couple of nights had been very smooth for Mayesh’s delivery of flowers, but last night the sheer volume of product arriving combined with dangerous driving conditions and late dispatches of trucks from the farms made for a long night. Working through the traffic of precariously loaded pallet jacks moving from staging area to trucks by young, impertinent stevedores, as well as constant revision of products by customer agents such as myself and the agricultural inspectors and constricted by an all too congested cold room, the task at hand was finally accomplished at 2am. At this time I was able to send Mayesh’s load of beautiful roses off to UPS, even though a few farms had to be left behind as they were too late to make the cut-off.
Blogger: David Dahlson
Well, not actually the crypt but from the depths of the frigid coolers in Quito I can report on the chaos that is happening at the cargo agencies, as well as the delinquency at the companies who palletize the flowers for the airlines.
Generally speaking all the flowers from the farms are delivered to the freight-forwarders’ coolers. Each customer uses a freight forwarder to consolidate the cargo from the farms, which in turn is then delivered to the airport where it enters one of several palletizing companies who prepare the loads for the airlines. When the volumes are this high, as is usual at Valentine’s Day and Mothers’ Day, the capacity to handle, refrigerate and deliver in a timely fashion becomes particularly strained. This year estimates put the amount of flowers at about 10% higher than last year, and the trade association Expoflores puts it as high as 13%. In fact on Saturday night three freight forwarders collapsed under the load and the palletizing operation was severely compromised.
This situation is a direct result of the people who control the airport to allow some freight forwarders to share the coolers of the palletizing companies. In the USA this would never be allowed as they are supposed to be bonded, secure and segregated from other commercial interests. I do not think that it takes much imagination to conjecture how such arrangements may have been made. The conflict of interest and the paralyzing consequences have never been so apparent as this year.
Guest Blogger: David Dahlson
Readers of the Mayesh blog over the years will be aware that Ecuador is divided into two main and distinct rose-growing regions, which in the interests of brevity can be termed the “North”, as in the area about 35 miles to the north of Quito (Ecuado’s capital) and the “South” a region that starts 30 miles to the south of Quito and extends a further 25 miles.
Each year I travel to one zone and visit the other on alternating days. After being in the South yesterday, today was the turn to travel to the North. On the way there I visited one notable farm called Bellaflor which is actually a single farm located in Puembo some 15 miles or so from Quito. Mayesh has purchased flowers from this now well established plantation for many, many years now; especially their beautiful gypsophila, roses and wide array of summer flowers. I will do an in-depth look at them later. Considering that my focus is on roses at the moment I can say that of all the rumors I had heard of farms being early with Valentine’s roses, as far as I am concerned, this is the only farm that I have seen that is truly early, and even then only by a few days. This was to be expected in a period of such intense sun that Ecuador experienced since December, as Bellaflor is at much lower altitude than most rose farms. In point of fact our pre-book with them had to be cut as there simply are not enough roses being produced at this plantation to fill the orders on the days required.
It is Sunday night and while I’m working on publishing this blog post, it is extremely cold here in Cleveland (19 degrees outside) and my husband is sleeping with the alarm clock set to wake him at 3am, which means that the Valentine’s Day holiday is almost upon us. I also know that the holiday is kicking into full gear because David Dahlson will be our guest blogger keeping us up-to-date on our roses and sharing with us the his experiences from Quito. Enjoy!