FEBRUARY 10, 1997

 The Edwards Agency

Home & Garden

A rose is a rose

roses Roses can be described as the Rolls Royce of flowers, but where do they come from this time of year when red roses are a hot seller for Valentine's Day? Pam and Bob Maule of Woodinville know. This week, they will deliver 240,000 fresh stems throughout the United States to florists and retail merchants.
   "Roses make people happy," said Bob, who, with his wife, Pam, started RoseExpress more than a year ago. "We import roses and various other flowers from our own farms in Colombia, South America, and some from Ecuador. The flowers are flown in three times a week to Miami to clear customs and then flown to Seattle. The roses are then trucked to Woodinville, where we rehydrate them,which takes about four hours. They are placed in the cooler overnight and the next day put into production where various arrangements are made for the wholesale or retail market," said Bob.
   There is a tremendous amount of investment in roses, according to Bob. "We believe in pre-maintenance. The roses are planted in greenhouses and cared for at least eight months before they are allowed to produce stems, quarantining a healthy based plant. The plants produce three to five stems each week for about eight years, harvested twice a day.
   "We picked Colombia because it is the ideal climate with warm days and cold nights. We have planted more than 500,000 plants on two farms on 40 acres and are growing more than 30 different varieties, and are adding more.
   "If you receive roses for Valentine's Day, you should add fresh water daily and cut the stems 1/4 inch every 24 hours to allow the flowers to drink. If the rose wilts, it should be recut on the end and then totally submerged in warm water for about 20 minutes, placed in the refrigerator for another 20 minutes, and then the cut end placed back in the arrangement."
   The Maules are looking now to set up a large distribution center somewhere in the central part of the United States.
   "We plan to start shipping with Federal Express at the end of the summer into Memphis where the flowers will clear customs. By having our distribution near there, our customers will receive a much fresher product," said Bob.