CENTRAL COAST—The California cut flower industry has changed drastically in the last 30 years. Once controlling more than half of cut flower sales in the U.S., it has gradually been overtaken by competition from overseas growers.
The Pajaro Valley, once a mecca of rose growing, is now home to only a handful of commercial growers.
But what hasn’t changed is that roses still grow well on the Central Coast. The mild climate and rich soil makes it possible for the popular flowers, which typically bloom in the region from Spring until Christmas, to thrive.
The Monterey Bay Rose Society is determined to keep the tradition of rose growing alive in California. Founded in the early 1980s, the group has regularly held workshops, classes and their annual Rose Show every May.
“Our main goal is education,” said Janey Leonardich, the society’s Secretary and a Master Rosarian. “We want to teach people what we know… to further their own practice. We want roses to remain a part of the area.”
This month the group has kicked off its series of rose pruning classes at various nurseries across the Monterey Bay. The classes are taught by Leonardich and other American Rose Society-certified Consulting and Master Rosarians.
So far, classes have been held at the society’s garden at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, San Lorenzo Nursery in Santa Cruz and Cooper-Molera Adobe in Monterey. Four more are planned at Alladin Nursery in Watsonville, Mission San Antonio di Padua in Jolon and Bokay Nursery in Salinas.
Participants will receive hands-on pruning experience with help from experts at the two-hour long classes. Presentations, including the occasional one by Monterey Bay Rose Society President Joe Truskot, are also part of the experience.
All classes are free and no reservation is required.
“We’ve always been a quiet little group, but we’ve realized we need to get ourself out there,” Leonardich said. “We want people to know they can come to us with any questions they have.”
Organizers ask people to wear comfortable clothes—“dress for the weather,” as most classes are held outdoors (rain or shine). Rosarians also encourage participants to bring any plants with them that they have questions about.
Each class location warrants a different experience, Leonardich said, but all have value.
“While the industry has indeed taken a hit… the nurseries that remain are doing great work,” Leonardich said. “We live in a great area with very few environmental factors. We still the ability to grow healthy, hearty roses.”
The following classes are scheduled:
•Alladin Nursery, 2905 Freedom Blvd., Watsonville on Jan. 25 at 10 a.m.
•Mission San Antonio di Padua, 1 Mission Creek Rd., Jolon on Jan. 26 at 10 a.m.
•Bokay Nursery, 33 Hitchcock Rd., Salinas on Feb. 1 at 10 a.m.
•Alladin Nursery, 2905 Freedom Blvd., Watsonville on Feb. 22 at 10 a.m.
For information and to contact Monterey Bay Rose Society visit montereybayrosesociety.org.