Acres of roses. To sigh for. Rose Story Farm is storied indeed. What a treat, and an education, too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
They have weddings and parties there, too.
And little cottages to rent.
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.