There is now a new way to assemble your own bouquet of roses, thanks to a pick-your-own rose venue at Birdsong Orchards in Watsonville.
Owner Nadine Schaeffer said she is growing dozens of varieties of roses on her 8-acre parcel where she also tends to about 200 varieties of apple trees, as well as fig, walnut, plum, avocado, peach, pomegranate and other types of trees.
“I was trying to sell the roses to florists and other venues and it was a lot of work,” Schaeffer said. “And then a friend asked me if she could just pay me to pick her own roses—and that was the lightbulb moment for this idea.”
Adding to the richness of Birdsong Orchards are a pair of llamas, goats, two emus and a clutch of chickens underfoot.
“I like to see this land as a habitat for plants and animals,” she said. “Beside my animals, I have owl and kestrel boxes; and there are all kinds of wild birds that come through here.”
As she spoke, a red-tailed hawk soared overhead, followed moments later by an osprey.
“There are a pair of golden eagles that fly by now and again as well,” she said.
People can order a two gallon ($35) or five gallon ($60) bucket online and then set a reservation. Schaeffer said this allows her to stagger visitors for safe pandemic spacing.
“I meet them with a bucket and clippers, or they can bring their own,” Schaeffer said. “I just let them pick whatever they want and to have fun doing it. I like to have only three to five parties at a time on any one day.”
She said roses are originally from Turkey and they are very easy to grow in the Pajaro Valley.
“The climate is perfect here: Hot, dry and good exposure,” she said. “I have this historical memory that growing roses is so hard. But have learned that they really take minimal care.”
Currently Schaeffer has about a third of an acre of roses but is aiming for a half-acre in the coming year.
“Next year we plan to put in a couple hundred more roses and just build from there,” she said.
The most popular roses people pick there include Mr. Lincoln, which is brilliant red with a strong fragrance, Everlasting Joy and Poseidon.
Schaeffer added that there is plenty of room on her land for folks to stretch out and have a picnic to add to their rose gathering experience. She also offers two two informational handouts featuring a list of eateries and area attractions like Gizdich Ranch and Sierra Azul Nursery and a rose cutting and care guide.
“If I could have figured out how to do this younger in life—bringing people joy—I would have done it,” she said.
Birdsong Orchards is located at 613 Lakeview Rd., Watsonville. Click here to schedule a visit.