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Did you hear the new Pantone color for 2019 is Living Coral? (Just kidding!) I think the Pantone color announcement is the only news that travels faster than light… with the exception of, maybe, a royal pregnancy. But don’t worry, we have you covered there... the Pantone color that is, NOT the pregnancy! Our friend, Robert DeBellis, from World Class Flowers, calls Living Coral a happy color, and likens the optimal color combinations with those found in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Grab your snorkel and check out his article inside!

TheInsideLook With Valentine’s Day coming up, Marla O’Dell; vice president of sales from CSS Industries reminds us not to be like a furniture “sales”person… or at least not like the one she encountered! It’s safe to say that after the holidays, there will not be a new sofa to crash on at the O’Dell household! A funny, if not frightening story, nonetheless.

And speaking of Valentine’s Day, we’re honored to have Bill Schaffer, the designer at The Gems Group, share easy tips and tricks for the holiday week. Never at a loss for valuable retail insight and solutions, Bill and The Gem’s Group took great care to provide a valuable educational tool this month to share with your stores before the Valentine’s Day holiday hits its peak.

If you see this speaker in person, bring a pogo stick to keep up with her! Check out the insights from our favorite HR guru, Glenna Hecht, sharing valuable “Tips for Valentine Temps.” And something else to look forward to — the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will be creating a new Floriculture Crops Summary report, which SAF members lobbied Congress to fund during CAD 2018. The report is critical to the long-term health of the industry and it’s a benefit to all of us — growers and retailers, alike. The report will be available on May 8 at Read more inside and mark your calendar.

Speaking of marking your calendar, a huge trade event for all things foliage and tropical is happening in Ft. Lauderdale in January and you definitely don’t want to miss it! You’ll find all the TPIE 2019 details inside and much more. I’d like to personally thank this month’s co-contributors, advertisers and industry givers, who share such great wisdom, talent and expertise with all of us. They continue to pay it forward for the betterment of the entire industry.

Happiness does not come from holding onto the seeds, but rather in sharing the full-bloomed flowers. Happy New Year! 

David C.H. Austin, founder and hybridizer emeritus of David Austin Roses Ltd. in Albrighton, England, died Dec. 18, 2018 at his Shropshire home. He was 92. His death was announced by his son, David J.C. Austin, managing director of the company since 1993.

austin1 A Distinguished Career in Roses

In 2007, Mr. Austin was appointed Officer of the Order of British Empire in the Queen’s birthday honors list for services to horticulture. On receiving the award, he said, “Every day, I marvel at my good fortune to have been able to make a life out of breeding roses. It is always a great satisfaction to see the pleasure gardeners and rose lovers worldwide take in my roses.” In that same year, Mr. Austin introduced his 200th English Rose at the Chelsea Flower Show, the beautiful deep crimson — and fragrant — ‘Munstead Wood.’

English Roses have won many awards around the world for their garden performance as shrubs or as climbers, as well as for fragrance, while David Austin Roses Ltd. has won dozens of gold medals for its exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show and the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

In 2009, David Austin’s rose ‘Graham Thomas’ received the highest accolade in the rose world when it was voted the World’s Favorite Rose by the World Federation of Rose Societies and was inducted into the society’s ‘Rose Hall of Fame.’

David C. H. Austin was also recipient of many personal awards, including the Victoria Medal of Honour from the Royal Horticultural Society in 2003 for his services to horticulture, and he was honored as the 2010 ‘Great Rosarian of the World’ by The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA, and New York’s Manhattan Rose Society.

David C.H. Austin will be remembered as the creator of English Roses. For more than 50 years, he routinely raised the bar of rose breeding as he and his team literally revolutionized the world of garden roses.  

Today, the enterprise he founded has nurseries on five continents and offers English Roses to gardeners in 30 countries through mail-order, online and garden center sales.

The family-owned company continues to be guided by Mr. Austin’s passion for roses with beauty and charm, the hallmark of all David Austin English Roses. It’s a legacy the entire David Austin team is proud to honor, as they carry forward the work of their founder, patriarch and one of history’s singular rose hybridizers.

David C. H. Austin was an active rose breeder practically his entire adult life. He and his late wife, Pat, an accomplished sculptress, had three children, Claire, David and James, and eight grandchildren. The beautiful sculptures that grace Mr. Austin’s Albrighton rose garden were created by Mrs. Austin. Mr. Austin named the exquisite copper-colored English Rose ‘Pat Austin’ in her honor.

Ten years ago, we wrote an article titled ‘The Roses are Screaming, Is Anyone Listening?” The American Floral Endowment funded research at the University of Florida to demonstrate that rose vase life of 8–10-plus days was possible, even on Valentine’s Day. We discovered how easy and simple it is to guarantee vase life, and how quickly one failed step will steal days of flower life.  

Rose1Ethylene reduces opening of ‘Movie Star’ Rose. Flowers on the right were treated with Ethylene while the flowers on the right were not treated.Rose quality has improved in the last 10 years as growers have modified production techniques and incorporated new technology into shipping, storage and retail handling practices.

But there is valuable new information that will benefit growers, wholesalers and retailers.

Consumer research has shown that over half of consumers do not want to spend money on flowers that do not last (Floral Marketing Research Fund). Guaranteed vase life that leads to increased sales is one of the highest priorities of everyone in the floral industry. This Valentine’s Day, you can help roses last by concentrating on the following postharvest requirements.

Believe it! Roses Are Ethylene Sensitive: Ethylene prevents roses from opening and reduces vase life. Scientific studies in the United States, Europe and Japan by seven scientists have repeatedly confirmed that a large percentage of cut rose varieties are ethylene sensitive. And, yet, there seems to be a continued denial in the industry that ethylene harms roses just as it damages and prematurely kills carnations, delphinium and other flowers. While some varieties of roses are not affected by ethylene, most of the cut rose varieties grown today are ethylene-sensitive. Premature petal wilting, reduced vase life and flower opening, and leaf and petal drop occur as a result of ethylene exposure.

Growers can limit and/or prevent ethylene damage by treating roses with anti-ethylene products.

To assure optimal quality and vase life, flower buyers should require all roses to be treated with an ethylene inhibitor.

Roses can not only be damaged by atmospheric ethylene during storage, shipping and display, but also by ethylene produced internally by the rose itself. Treatment to prevent ethylene damage should be a requirement — not an option.

Roses Need Water and Sugar: Water is an important factor for optimizing vase life and getting flowers to open. Water is absorbed and moves up the stem to the petals. As the water moves into each petal cell, the cell is expanded just as a balloon is expanded by air. The movement of water and the expansion of the cells requires energy. Initially, sugar stored in the leaves is used to provide this energy. Once the stored sugar is depleted, sugar must be provided by flower foods or the flower will die prematurely. Commercial flower foods contain sugar and products to lower the solution pH (lowers microbe growth) and accelerate water uptake. Hydration solutions should be used by growers and flower foods by retailers.

Roses should be processed soon after arrival. Boxes should be opened and inspected for insects and diseases.

Then, about 1 to 1-1/2 inches of the stem can be removed with a clean sharp knife (not underwater) and placed into a clean container with properly mixed flower food at retail stores.

Or, with new flower food technology, it is not necessary to re-cut stems. Both types of solutions provide good results provided the flowers and care and handling procedures are consistent shipment to shipment, but retailers choosing the no-cut solution will save money by reducing the time and labor involved in processing.

Keep Roses Cold from Arrival Until Sold: Cold temperatures are a major factor in keeping flowers fresh.

The importance of keeping roses cold (33 - 36 F) on the shipping truck and from the time of arrival at a store or distribution center to the time they are purchased is important.

Allowing the temperature to rise above recommended temperature will reduce vase life. In fact, research has shown that holding flowers at room temperature in retail displays reduces vase life for the consumer. Generally, each day at room temperature shortens vase life by a day.

Even during this busy holiday season, do not ignore the critical three steps to extend vase life:

* prevent ethylene damage

* use of flower food

* maintain of cold temperatures.

Terril Nell is the research coordinator of the American Floral Endowment;

Mel Schwanke AAF, Past President of the Society of American Florists, and Recipient of the SAF Floriculture Hall of Fame Honor passed away at his home in Fremont, Nebraska on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018 at the age of 92.

mschwankeMel SchwankeMel and his surviving wife of 70 years, Joey, are known throughout the Flower industry for their passion and dedication — and also as the Famous Matching Couple, having dressed in coordinating outfits at industry events and every day in Joey’s family business, Greens Greenhouses Inc.  

Mel served as the executive director of the Nebraska Florist Society for over 50 years and also was the executive director of NeMoKan (the Nebraska Missouri and Kansas Florist Association Convention) held annually for many years.

Mel served on numerous committees, including the Retail Florists Council for SAF and helped to create the American Florist Endowment for research and education in the flower industry. 

Mel served as a Marine in WWII and was awarded the Purple Heart for his service.

He was the Chairman of the Building fund for his church, Trinity Lutheran Church, where the service was held on Friday, Dec. 21 at 1:00pm.

Mel is survived by his wife, Joey, and children Jo Heinz, Cindy McKown and J Schwanke; four grandchildren and six great granchildren.  

Ludvigsens Funeral Home in Fremont, NE, was in charge of the services. Visitation was held Thursday, Dec. 20.

Greens Florist in Fremont was in charge of flowers. 

On behalf of the entire floriculture industry, we send our condolences to the family of this remarkable legend.