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Garden roses aren’t just for weddings

You’ve seen them all over social media wherever wedding flowers are featured. Today, any trendy, upscale bridal bouquet isn’t complete without one or more garden roses. But these are not your grandmother’s garden roses. These are rose cultivars that have been either selected or bred specifically for cut flower use, resulting in superior performance in the vase.

What they do have in common with the roses you might find in an old-fashioned garden is something customers are said to crave today. More than just a product — garden roses offer an experience.

“The best thing about our garden roses is something that wedding customers never really get to appreciate because they usually get to enjoy them for only one day,” said Jose (Joey) Azout, president at Alexandra Farms, a boutique rose farm in Bogota, Colombia, that specializes in this elite niche. “These are roses that open slowly over several days and then hold that open position.”

AshleyAs they open, garden roses change form, revealing a multitude of petals inside a deep cup or a wide, ruffled rosette, and releasing more and more of their fragrance — the signature quality that distinguishes them from ordinary hybrid tea roses. As they open, garden roses change form, revealing a multitude of petals inside a deep cup or a wide, ruffled rosette, and releasing more and more of their fragrance — the signature quality that distinguishes them from ordinary hybrid tea roses.

Colors may also shift. A typical bouquet of garden roses, all of the same variety, covers a range of harmoniously related tints and tones.

The progress that a garden rose makes over the course of more than a week in the vase can be seen in photos on the Alexandra Farms website. These photos are intended to help floral designers know what to expect and how far ahead to request delivery to ensure the garden roses are at their peak for the event.

True, garden roses cost more than ordinary hybrid teas. But a few garden roses, prominently displayed, can elevate the impression customers receive upon entering a floral display area — from a typical floral department to a trendy boutique. The fragrance alone encourages shoppers to linger and browse.

“Customers who know that you carry garden roses will come to you for other related supplies, like vases and greens,” said Azout. “Especially for items with high value. And with the vase life we’re getting from our roses, there is no reason not to sell them for everyday enjoyment. In selecting our varieties, we will grow none that do not promise a 10-day vase life, even after five days of shipping.”

Garden rose varieties with the required vase-life characteristics are hard to find.

Alexandra Farms has tested more than a thousand varieties to discover those exceptional ones that combine the shape and fragrance of garden roses with the vase life of premium cut roses.

The result is an impressively wide range of varieties in the garden-rose style. These are roses culled from gardens and specialty breeders’ selections in countries such as England, France, Germany, and as far away as Japan.

The fragrance may be delicate or intoxicating, the color pale and pure or rich and rare. Photos of more than 50 varieties are available on the Alexandra Farms website, www.alexandrafarms.com.

Bruce Wright is owner at BruceWrites.com. He can be contacted at bruce@brucewrites.com.