Wooed by Oregon-grown roses
David and I first learned of Peterkort Roses about a year ago. Our friend Melissa Feveyear, eco-floral designer and owner of Terra Bella Organic Flowers and Botanic Design in Seattle’s Greenwood district, agreed to spend a Sunday morning turning her beautiful shop over to a photo shoot for us. We envisioned a Sunday brunch in the dead of winter, asking Melissa (and ourselves), “is it possible to create beautiful bouquets that feature locally-grown flowers – even in January?”
The answer was unequivocally YES – thanks to Melissa’s creative foraging of hers and others’ gardens, as well as sourcing from local growers. One of those growers was Peterkort Roses, a third-generation family farm located outside Portland, Oregon. Peterkort’s 16 hoop-houses produce thousands of rose stems, as well as gorgeous Asiatic lilies, orchids and maiden fern, year ’round.
Norman Peterkort and his sister Sandra Peterkort Laubenthal are the grandchildren of this clan. Now adults, they and their siblings have continued to run the flower farm and supply floral designers in Oregon and Washington with a fabulous selection of fresh, locally- and sustainably-grown roses. Imagine: you can actually enjoy a vase filled with roses harvested only yesterday, which ensures a bouquet with a vase life much longer than the typical five days. Peterkort uses hydroponics and integrated pest management practices (biological pest controls). They do not dip their flowers in fungicides and they do not use any EPA-restricted pesticides. They do, however, employ a clutch of hens who are charged with weed and pest control It is pretty hilarious watching the chickens run up and down the rows of flowers . . . pecking away at chickweed and insects.
The bouquet you see here is one that I created from three types of Peterkort Roses that came home with me from a photo shoot 10 days ago. I purchased these roses from Sandra at the Portland Flower Market on February 2nd. The red-burgundy spectrum inspired me to create a tone-on-tone bouquet that includes ‘Talea’ (a dark red spray rose), ’Sacha’(a scarlet red sweetheart rose) and ‘Black Baccara’ (a dark velvety black-red rose, closet to black you’ll ever find).
The rose bunches spent several days in a bucket of water before I actually opened each of them up, freed their stems from a rubber band, stripped off the foliage and gave each a fresh cut into clean water. On February 5th I used about half of the stems to demonstrate how to make a hand-tied bouquet for a Master Gardener’s class. I placed the “leftover” roses, about 30 stems, into clean water and stored them in my bonus refrigerator. Cold storage is the term used by florists, but home designers don’t have a big walk-in cooler or refrigerated room. That’s why having a second fridge is useful (right now, I’m keeping a few bunches of tulips “on hold” in my fridge).
Yesterday, a full 10 days after buying the roses from Sandra, I finally had a moment to play with the flowers. I created the bouquet you see here, using the tonal red-burgundy-wine palette. The hand-tied bouquet also features a “collar” of silver bush foliage (Leucadendron leaves left over from that same photo shoot) and drooping white flower clusters from a Pieris japonica.
For many sweethearts, Valentine’s Day is filled with expectations and anticipation. For us, the romantic holiday is not complete unless the flowers we give and receive come from local farmers who use sustainable practices. Peterkort is one such source. Please ask your local florist to order these domestic roses rather than the steroidal giants that must be shipped from afar, a continent or two from here.