Episode 10: Coming Up Roses
On the next episode screening 19 April 2014 at 7pm on TV ONE
Coming Up Roses
The ultimate goal for Bay of Plenty rose grower Alistair Grant is to produce the perfect Valentine's Day rose.
And this year, Alistair reckons he's come close.
"Looking at the colour and shape of this bunch of red roses, I think we've done our job," he says. "It's as close to perfection as you can get."
Alistair and his wife, Anne Mackersey, grow up to 5,000 roses a week for markets in Wellington and local florists in Tauranga.
Their red roses are in hot demand around the country, but achieving perfection takes hard work, patience and years of experience.
Two days after Christmas, Alistair's back at work, trimming the red roses in his greenhouse.
"We only have a six-week window,' he says. "We have to hope that nature stays on our side and they come back into full bloom on the right day."
Alistair spends those six weeks spraying, heating and even talking to his roses, hoping nature and nurture will deliver a superb flush of red roses just in time for the lucrative Valentine's Day market.
Summer 2014 at Highland Roses in the hills above Tauranga has been a mixed bag. Cool southerly conditions mean Alistair's had to be extra vigilant to ensure the temperature in his 1700-square-metre greenhouse stays relatively even.
"I've probably got too much invested in all this," he says. "I go on an emotional rollercoaster at this time each year."
Once Alistair has clipped each of his precious red roses, they are packed into boxes and he personally chaperones them on an overnight road trip to the Capital City flower market.
"We can't be late. There is so much at risk - everyone is expecting our roses to be there and we need to convert all our hard work into cash."
Anne grew up on the Whakamarama property where she and Alistair now grow roses.
"This was our playground when I was a child. It was an ever-changing landscape.
"My father, Godfrey, was developing the farm from bush. Dad spent long days cutting back the bush and burning and cultivating paddocks to give us a rural lifestyle, which the family still enjoys today."
Anne and Alistair bought a piece of land on the farm for their rose business, while her parents continue to grow sheep and beef on the rest of the property.
"Mum helps out in the packing shed when we get busy and Alistair and I help Godfrey and Margaret on the farm when they need an extra pair of hands. There is no official boss here, it just works," says Anne.
To find out more about Alistair and Anne's roses, visit www.highlandroses.co.nz
To find out more about the QE11 National Trust, visit www.openspace.org.nz
To find out more about Otumoetai College, visit: www.otc.school.net
To find out more about United Flower Growers, visit: www.ufg.co.nz
Post production manager