Highland Roses

Gary has had the pleasure of knowing Grant and Ann of Highland Roses since they first started in Levin in 1989. At that time Gary was the owner/founder of Otaki Hydroponics on the Kapiti Coast. The industry was starting to boom with many a grower trying their hand at a variety of crops some succeeded and some did not. But some, like Grant and Ann, continued to grow for many years perfecting their techniques and succeeded in producing roses for the enjoyment of other, second to none.
Written by - Grant & Anne Mackersey

Highland Roses was established in Levin in 1989. We built a 20m X 7m wooden 
framed Redpath greenhouse and grew a variety of cut flower roses sourced from  Frank Schuurman in Auckland.  

Our initial aim was to grow roses that opened when you bought them and that  lasted at least a week. At the time most roses on the market were picked very  tight in the bud (bullets) and often drooped their heads or faded soon after  purchasing them. Consequently we were faced with a consumer attitude not to  buy roses because they didn’t last.  

By picking the flower more open and treating the cut stem appropriately we  were able to supply a rose that opened and had the shelf life. However the  attitude of the florists on presenting these flowers on the market floor was that  they were ‘blown’ and wouldn’t keep so they initially rejected them.

We soon realised that to make headway on the auction floor and have a 
presence it was all about a name, consistency and quality.

Due to the limited size of our operation then and now it was (and still is)  essential that Highland Roses produced top quality blooms with a long shelf life  and presented these consistently on the market floor (twice a week).

Over the last 24 years through dedication, passion and sheer hard work we  have endeavoured to maintain these standards.

For the last 16 years our business has been based at Whakamarama near  Tauranga. Over this time we have maintained relationships with local florists  selling our roses but the majority of our production would still be sent to the  Wellington auction floor.

Another early concern of ours was the toxicity of the sprays used by some  growers in their growing practices. One of our florist buyers had dreadful health  and dermatitis problems that she related to handling some flower types. For  health and environmental reasons we investigated alternatives to pest and  disease control but in an intensive horticulture situation this proved challenging.

Integrated Pest Management forms a major part of our management using  natural predators of pests to provide control. This means the problem is never  eliminated and takes constant monitoring. It means assistance in transporting the  predators to new sites and tolerating occasional isolated out breaks and  consequent production losses. It is also a challenge to ensure spray applications  for mildews and other diseases are compatible and will not harm the predators.  The sprays generally tend to be of the ‘softer’ type. Two years ago we identified  a new predator to our arsenal. The bright green Bell frog has established itself  and set up camp in the greenhouses. They are testament to the fact the IPM and  use of soft sprays is establishing a somewhat unique ecosystem within the confines of the greenhouses.