Ever wonder what life is like as a rose farmer? Well, it is obviously not all sunshine, rainbow and rosy as most of us have thought. Theresa at Life In Rose Farm in Magnolia, TX generously shared with us about her rose journey, how it all started, challenges, struggles, and how she overcame adversities during trying times. I hope her story will inspire you to continue growing what you love despite a challenging year.
Plants take time to grow and flower but it’s worth the wait, if you love what you’re planting. Trust that if you put your all into your crops that you will reap the rewards of your labor. - Theresa
Q: Share with us about your gardening journey - not necessarily roses but gardening in general.
Theresa: I have always loved and dreamed of having an English cottage garden but never had the time nor money to spend developing it. Gardening, to me, is a project that would require serious commitment. Knowing how elaborate I tend to be, I couldn’t get involved in it until I knew I could give it my undivided all.
I have always had some types of backyard with flowering plants but I never personally spent time caring for them - my husband did it all! I didn’t truly get “down and dirty” and get it my hands in the dirt until we started rose farming a year and a half ago.
Q: How did you start your rose gardening? What was your 1st rose and how did that go?
Theresa: Belinda’s Dream was the very first rose planted, exactly 13 years ago. My husband and I purchased our first starter home together right before we got married and I wanted to have roses in our backyard. Shaw showered me with flowers annually for Valentine, my birthday, and our anniversary.
That year we got married, I jokingly told him that he wouldn’t have to buy me another bouquet if he would just purchase 12 rose bushes, plant them and take care of them for me. So he did but continued to shower me with bouquets on occasion! Fast forward to recently, beyond my wildest dreams, I went from growing 12 to 5000 roses.
My husband took advantage of my love for roses to entice me to move out to the country to farm them. His strategy worked and his wish granted. We sold our city home and was out of there and into the wilderness within a month!
Q: At which point did you feel strongly and confidently that you could turn rose gardening into a business? How did your family react to your ideas?
Theresa: While I am a dreamer, I am also a very practical person. I knew the cost, time and labor required in growing garden roses - it’s an expensive hobby that I couldn’t justify, especially with how elaborate I would have had it. BUT, as a business that could potentially be lucrative, I was more comfortable with that investment, even if it meant going all out and all in!
Believe it or not, it didn’t take much research nor time for us to make a decision to go into the rose farming business.
The only 2 questions we asked ourselves (over the course of one weekend) was: Is it doable and Is there a need for it? With Antique Rose Emporium nearby, who have successfully grown garden roses for decades, I knew it was achievable. And, with not a single cut rose farm in the South (US), I figured it was time we give the community one.
At this point in our lives, our families were accustomed to our “outrageous endeavors”. They had watched us juggled climbing Corporate careers with a side hustle (business) in design with a newborn and a toddler in tow while renovating and flipping our primary homes every single year for the past 5 years!
Going into farming seemed very “backward” in the Asian culture, especially with the cumulative college degrees we’ve earned - a combined 3 Masters and 5 total degrees between Shaw and I. And yet, our parents and families have dreamt along with us on our journey (while sitting on the edge of their seats, of course). They’ve been very supportive of this undertaking.
Q: Looking back from where you're now, how would you describe your 1st month as a rose farmer?
Theresa: Bright-eyed and bushy-tail! Occasionally, a deer caught in a headlight. We were pretty clueless and a bit naive but incredibly hopeful.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what did you wish you knew earlier when you started your rose farm?
Theresa: I wish we had learned about pest and weed management better, especially with scaling our farm. In the past year we’ve felt like we were being reactive versus being proactive. And with pests and weeds, once it’s out of control, it’s so difficult to get it back on track!
On the flip side, we’ve learned so much going thru these trying times that we feel we can tackle just about anything that comes our way.
Q: So far, what are the most difficult challenges you've faced to date about rose gardening and business in general?
Theresa: As I mentioned earlier, pest and weed management was challenging. Staying on top of it would have been ideal but when you’re just starting out with very limited knowledge and experience it’s bound to be a big learning curve!
Seasonality was also a challenge - learning and understand the flower market and it’s high times and low times so we can better manage our expectations and plan our financials accordingly. Understand the nature of the difference rose varieties and their bloom schedules and coordinating/timing it with the wholesale and retail needs was also a struggle in and of its own.
Q: How did you cope with adversities? What helps you get back on your feet after facing challenges and difficulties?
Theresa: When times were tough, it was tough. There were days where I felt completely defeated, and in that brief moment of weakness I actually contemplated going back to my Corporate career where I felt more useful. Managing a new career in a new industry is overwhelming as it is but throw in all other aspects of running a business like sales, marketing, and logistics…it over complicates it even more!
My only saving Grace is my grit and determination. I would try different techniques and different approaches to resolve a problem. And when I’d want to give up, I’d push even harder the next day to overcome adversities. I don’t expect to see success immediately but I do thrive in making progress and knowing that if I just chip away at it, I will be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor, one day.
Q: What are some of the life lessons you have learned from growing and observing roses?
Theresa: Patience, first and foremost - plants take time to grow and flower but it’s worth the wait, if you love what you’re planting. Trust that if you put your all into your crops that you will reap the rewards of your labor.
Q: What is your most favorite rose if you have to pick only one and why?
Theresa: As of right now, my favorite rose is still Earth Angel. She appears to have the complete package - stunning looks with tons of petal counts and oozing with old world charm. Beautiful creamy clustered exterior blooms and a touch of blush in the center along the most delicious fruity fragrance. A repeat bloomer with long thornless stems and longer lasting vase life both on the plant and in a vase. What more could you ask for in a rose?!
Q: What is your vision for Life In Rose Farm within the next 2-3 years? What do you want to see happen?
Theresa: In 2-3 years I’d love to see the farm pristinely landscaped (chef’s kiss)! I would love to start experimenting with the produce we grow in the herbs and vegetable garden by the cottage and incorporate that into our very own signature farm to table dishes. I would also love to have a pottery studio and be able to design my own terracotta pots, urns and vases.
More importantly, I’d love nothing more than to be able to share this adventure and experience with as many people as possible! I hope to create a charming, relaxing , and indulging space where everyone can feel like they’ve been transported to a certain time and place.
Nostalgia - one that reminds them of home or a loved one or a favorite place they’d frequent. I wish to share this beauty and joy that my husband and I have poured our hearts and souls in with our community!
All photos from Life In Rose Farm
Thank you Theresa for pouring your heart out to share with us so generously and keeping it real. You can follow her LifeInRoseFarm adventure/journey on Facebook and Instagram where she regularly shares life and farm updates.
The gorgeous, heavenly fragrant Farmer's Choice Designer Mixed Bouquet is also available on her website with 20% off through mid-August at www.LifeInRoseFarm.com.