Whether they appear in a formal, long-stemmed bouquet on a romantic occasion, or in a rambling, sweet-smelling springtime garden, it's easy to understand the enduring popularity of roses. Martha visits with Ray Reddell, owner of Garden Valley Ranch in Petaluma, California, to take a look inside the world of commercial rose growing. The Garden Valley production farm grows and distributes nationwide some of the highest-quality roses available in the United States.
At Garden Valley, roses are cut in the fields in the early morning, while the buds are still closed. This keeps the blooms from being damaged and will allow them to open after they are shipped for sale. After picking, the roses are brought indoors, where they are sorted according to stem length. Roses are categorized by the length of their stems, as well as by the quality of the blooms. Roses with the longest stems are graded "blue." Those with medium-length stems are "red," and those with short stems are "yellow."
Following sorting, the roses at Garden Valley are processed. Ray explains to Martha that the most important step in the processing of roses is re-cutting the stems underwater. This step creates a temporary seal -- preventing an air bubble from forming inside the stem. Air in the stem can travel up to the bloom, causing it to nod prematurely. Ray also discusses some other ways to keep cut roses looking their best. He recommends adding a few drops of household bleach to the water to keep away fungus. Also, adding about one teaspoon of sugar to the water in the vase will feed the roses and help keep them lively.
After processing, roses at Garden Valley are bundled and shipped in bunches of ten, then tagged with the Garden Valley Ranch logo -- their symbol of top quality.
A hybrid tea rose. Undergoes a beautiful color transformation as the bloom opens.
A peach-colored hybrid tea rose.
A David Austin English rose that is sold with small tight buds of rich yellow-apricot that open in the vase.
A hybrid tea rose with a deep burgundy color. Unusual in that its stem is never long, regardless of quality.
A popular white floribunda rose.
498 Pepper Road
Petaluma, CA 94952
Rayford Clayton Reddell (foreward by Martha Stewart)
"The Rose Bible" (Harmony Books, 1994; $50)