Some people love roller coasters. My kids love the coasters, but for me I get enough thrills introducing new plants. Introducing new plants can be fun and exciting, but it’s also scary as hell. Sure it’s really fun to be the first person to see a new plant with great garden potential. And it’s especially exciting the first time you see that new plant in someone’s garden or landscape. But introducing a new plant is also very scary. First off everyone is a plant critic. As horticulturists we are trained to find fault with every plant. And to be sure every plant has its weak points. No plant is going to do well in every state in the union, in every soil type and withstand all the abuse that gardeners dish out. So I introduce plants and brace myself for the criticism. No matter how good the plant it always comes.
But there is nothing better than hearing and seeing the good reviews. A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to a local mail order nursery called Garden Crossings. They’re a small grower that has a unique view of the market. A few years back they decided to grow and sell the complete line of Proven Winners plants, including the Proven Winners ColorChoice shrubs. During our visit it was exciting to see the 2 ¼ inch liners he brought in just a few months earlier and potted up into two gallon containers. It was especially exciting to see his crop of Oso Easy Roses. They were superb! Each plant was like a soldier, full and robust, and all budded up and ready to flower. The leaves were glossy and clean.
|Oso Easy paprika|
When I selected the Oso Easy Roses I knew they were extremely good plants. I work with five different rose breeders and in our trials we do not spray any of their selections. In our hot, humid production environment it’s the perfect conditions for disease. Not many roses cut the mustard and as a result only few varieties (out of hundreds) remained clean during our trials. So far only four varieties have made it into the Oso Easy line.
But, regardless of how well the plant perform in our trials, I always worry about how people will perceive our plants. How will perform in nurseries and in the garden. So it was a good day when I saw the Oso Easy roses looking so darn good, especially compared to the most popular roses on the market. Cleary they were stand-out plants. It came as a great relief because several people had told me I was crazy to introduce new roses. The rose market is being dominated by just a few new selections and no one is asking for new roses. But if you’re in the business of introducing new plants, and if you believe you have something special, you have to stand firm. You have to stick your neck out. Lots of people are going to take swipes and some will call you crazy, so you need to have thick skin. It can be a roller coaster ride of emotions, but in the end there’s a real satisfaction in weathering the storm. This week the roses in our display house came into full bloom. I brought some three gallon Oso Easy roses into the office. Everyone, including the people in bookkeeping, went crazy over the plants. More confirmation.
But for me the roller coaster ride never ends. Each year there are more introductions, more worries, more criticism and more reviews. But that’s ok. It's not the horticulturists that decide the fate of a new plant, it's the consumer. And I can live with that.