The month of April is a busy one here at Harkness as we are full steam ahead with our plans for the Chelsea Flower show and much of the work in the nursery is about tending the plants we will be using at the show.
In the seedlings area things are hotting up as the weather does.
Just look at what difference a few weeks makes to our new baby roses.
We will be keeping an eye on them as they continue to grow. Out of this batch we might have several brand new, unique roses we can launch in a few years so it is important we keep germinating and breeding.
The seedlings on the benches in the glasshouse contain some 780 crosses totalling 40,000 seedlings not all of which will germinate. We are currently monitoring them on a daily basis to ensure they have the correct temperature and moisture levels to germinate and grow.
This May onwards they will begin to flower and that will be the first glimpse of the potential new varieties of the future. We eliminate any that are weak, prone to disease, or not very interesting. This first selection process will go on from May until September and they have to be looked at every day to ensure we don’t miss a potential star!
The mother plants are doing just as well. As you might notice your own roses are beginning to look healthy and green again as they spring into action.
Just look how Mother Nature is nurturing them along!
Other preparation in April involves making sure paperwork is ready for observations and notes to be taken on the 1,500 trial roses, all of which are completely unique. These are the seedlings from the past few years which are in pots outside on the nursery, waiting to see if they make it to the next selection phase.
Each rose has been pruned, and weeded to make sure every label is legible – this is important as there will be only one of each potential new variety so accuracy is important. Selection of a new rose takes on average between 6 and 8 years!
It is their time to shine and see how they cope without any intervention from us. This shows us which plants are the most resilient. Being a rose breeder is one of the most satisfying jobs. Watching as we pair together a suitable mother and father plant, and seeing what individual stunning roses we can create and bring to market.
Only the best get through. To take a look at the process watch this video made by our brand ambassador David Domoney. It really is fascinating.