Desperate to get away, but a vacation doesn’t currently fit in your schedule or budget? Then take a virtual trip to South America via J Schwanke, AAF, AIFD, PFCI. In the final episode of his latest documentary, “The Flowers of Colombia,” the founder of uBloom.com visits garden rose grower Joey Azout, president of Alexandra Farms, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at his dreamy greenhouses, packing house, and showroom.
With 20 hectares, Alexandra Farms is the world’s largest producer of garden roses.
“That means we can offer our customers a better breadth of selection and better depth of quantities,” Azout said.
The company grows 50 different varieties and sells more than 300,000 stems a week.
“We just added our 50th variety last year,” Azout said. “It took 10 years of searching for the right fit.”
Alexandra Farms’ roses come from breeders in England, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark and Japan. In the video, Azout discusses its three distinct collections.
Its David Austin line of English garden roses “is the most well-known,” Azout said. “With 14 varieties in various shades and fragrances, there’s an option to fit pretty much any wedding palette or style.” The Deluxe Garden line includes garden roses with peony, cabbage, and pompon shapes, as well as side shoots. Its newest line, Princess Japanese, feature colors, shapes, and fragrances popular in Asia but not yet familiar in the western hemisphere.
Although the farm’s product is nothing short of spectacular, Azout told Schwanke the people are the best part of his job.
“We’re fortunate to have rose-loving people. Everything is done by hand — we sew by hand, we graft by hand, we harvest by hand, we bunch by hand, we grade by hand and we pack by hand. That’s what makes us special,” he said. “And the people we have relationships with — they make this so worthwhile. Our product is a gift that makes everyone happy. I’m so lucky that I landed in this wonderful industry.”
To watch the full episode, click here.
Schwanke launched “The Flowers of Colombia” documentary late last fall, following Proflora, a massive trade show, held every other year in Bogotá, hosted by Asocolflores, the association of Colombian flower growers. The series borrows the same name as the association’s new national brand.
Throughout the series, Schwanke highlights new varieties exhibited at Proflora, interviews breeders about what goes into producing quality flowers enjoyed around the world, discusses Colombia’s culture of sustainability exemplified in its social and environmental programs, and promotes the health benefits of incorporating flowers into daily life.
Schwanke, who has previously filmed documentaries about America’s flower farmers (“The California Grown Experience” and “The Florida Fresh Foliage and Flower Tour”), is on a mission to share the stories of the growers and harvesters behind flowers from around the globe.
“This is a very diverse industry with beautiful product and passionate people all over the world,” Schwanke said. “I believe every flower has a story and I want to find and share as many of those stories as possible.”