Acres of Roses–A Field Trip to Rose Story Farm

Acres of roses. To sigh for. Rose Story Farm is storied indeed. What a treat, and an education, too.

Rose Story Farm
Entrance to Rose Story Farm

A little less than an hour up the road from us at Rancho La Zaca is the family owned Rose Story Farm, in Carpenteria, California. There are tours from spring to fall and luncheon is served afterward.

These are old garden roses, with fragrances and colorations from rich and variegated to delicate and subtle–not the flavorless thick-stemmed hot-house variety that would hold up in a hurricane but that is the extent of their charms.

Rose Story Farm
Birdcage bouquet, Rose Story Farm
Rose Story Farm
Bouquet of pinks and corals, Rose Story Farm

We were lucky enough this day to be shown around by proprietor Dani Hahn, who with her husband (Doctor) Bill, bought the property 25 years ago. She says it was so rundown when they bought it…

How rundown was it?

“It was so rundown that the termites were holding hands to hold it up,” she says.

Rose Story Farm
Cottage at Rose Story Farm

She said they had no idea what they were doing when they decided to grow roses and there were all sorts of funny stories of mishaps and disasters. Note to self: Dreams are made of these.

Clearly they got past those early oopses and yikes.

Rose Story Farm
Just picked, Rose Story Farm

There is no “commercial” way to grow roses, she tells us. They grow them organically and plant, prune, and pick them by hand. Yes ma’am, they do.

Rose Story Farm
Rose Story Farm

Better to buy roses  in pots than bare root, Dani says. They are better established, and you have a better idea of what you are getting. You don’t have to tell me twice.

Rose Story Farm
Rose Story Farm

Julia Child was a Hahn family friend and visited there often. They even offered to name a rose for her, and when she finally finally chose “her” rose, it was one the supreme rose authorities say cannot be named for a person. Only two of that particular category of rose theretofore had ever been named for people, and those were “Queen Elizabeth” and “Mr. Lincoln.”


The supreme rose authorities reconsidered.

Here is the “Julia Child” rose.

Rose Story Farm
The "Julia Child" rose, Rose Story Farm

Dani says not to cut too deeply into the plant when it first begins to bloom. Just deadhead and as the plant grows and strengthens you can cut farther into it. Cut just above an outside stem, encouraging the plant to grow out rather than up.

This one is called “Hot Cocoa.”

Rose Story Farm
"Hot Cocoa," Rose Story Farm

And I think this one below is “Berries ‘N Cream.” You can email the farm any of these photos and they will ID them for you. The Rose Story Farm website also has an excellent section on their roses with photos and descriptions.

Rose Story Farm
Rose Story Farm

About arrangements, Dani said that putting stuff in the water–sugar, 7-Up, etc., didn’t really help. Rose food is okay, but otherwise just top off the water every day, because they drink a lot. The best water to use is the water they’re grown in. Your plain, outside water.

A cut rose will last five days, period. Why not enjoy flowers the way we enjoy a fabulous meal or a great glass of wine? Right in that moment. Great analogy.

This one is called “Neptune.” Have you ever. But beware lavender and purple roses. They are prone to browning and you have to deadhead them like crazy.

Rose Story Farm
"Neptune," Rose Story Farm

There is also have a great little gift shop, on premises and online.. I do love a gift shop.

Rose Story Farm
Gift shop, Rose Story Farm

They have weddings and parties there, too.

Rose Story Farm
Arbor, Rose Story Farm
Rose Story Farm
Rose Story Farm

And little cottages to rent.

Rose Story Farm
Cottage, Rose Story Farm

What a wonderful day, thanks to my awesome, adorable friend Julie, who organized it. She wanted me to meet a handful of her equally awesome girlfriends now that I am an old married lady and officially a denizen of the Santa Ynez Valley (when I’m not in New York), and what a fun time we had.

I sure do love my girlfriends. I mean, I always have, but they seem to mean more to me the older I get.  Do you find that?

This week has been an embarrassment of riches in the girlfriend department. Thank you all.

Anyway Julie had been telling me about Rose Story for a while and I’d been dying to go. To see it of course, but also for inspiration. I’m fixin’ to plant some roses at the ranch. They grow like weeds here and it seems a crime not to.

These are Julie’s roses, just plopped in a vase on her kitchen counter and they looked like a Dutch master’s painting. Truly madly deeply pretty.

Julie's roses
Julie's roses

And speaking of beautiful roses and great girls, I’ve recently met the beauty and brains behind the fab blog Slim Paley, who also just wrote about Rose Story Farm. See her gorgeous post here.

Rose Story Farm
Entrance, Rose Story Farm


  1. I just swooned over these stunning roses. I would love to share this blog with friends.
    Thank you for always bringing us the very best eye candy!

  2. That photo of “Julie’s roses”! And the bowl of pinks and corals! Just wish it weren’t so far away,as I’m feeling the need of a field trip myself! How ever will you decide which ones to choose for your new rose garden? But what a wonderful “problem”to have – ha!

  3. C’est Magnifique! Can’t wait to share your story with my garden club friends in Philadelphia…..we LOVE roses so much!

  4. Joe and I, Meredith and Gilliam Kittrell have to go to LA for a Sotheby’s event June 2-6. Extra night, should we stay at Rose Farm and get out of LA? Is the little town quaint or is there another stop along the way that you suggest? We loved dinner at The Little Door in LA last time we were there, where do you suggest?

  5. Okay, that’s it, I am moving into one of those little rosy cottages! So looking forward to going back home in the Fall. Mountains and roses, oh, my!

  6. Frances! I’m blushing! (wait, is that the name of a rose??)
    It was MY pleasure to be seated beside YOU at the lovely luncheon in your honour the other day.
    May you cultivate many gorgeous new roses and friendships here in our little corner of Paradise.
    I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon!

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