Home' Christchurch Mail : February 14th 2013 Contents 4 CHRISTCHURCH MAIL, FEBRUARY 14, 2013
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HARVEST: Pickers have been working hard to get top notch
roses into production for Valentine's Day.
This red rose grower no
longer sings the blues
Disaster after disaster has
struck Moffatt's Flower
Company in the past three
years. Only a few weeks ago
it was back up and running
at full capacity, just in time
for Valentine's Day. ABBIE
NAPIER went to Halswell for
the grand tour.
BUMPER CROP: Gerald Davies checking on the Valentine's Day harvest.
ESTABLISHED IN 1949, the Moffatt s
family business has probably never seen
Once the fledgling project of a Moffatt
ancestor, the 20,000 square metre site in
Halswell now hums with activity as
roses are cut, pruned, bagged and
tagged for sale.
A flower market giant, Moffatt s
produces a staggering 3 million stems a
year -- that s 250,000 bunches of a dozen
Jack of all trades Gerald Davies
joined up with Moffatt s after the Febru-
ary earthquake. The situation was dire.
In 2009, the boiler used to heat the
glasshouses caught fire, leaving many
thousands of plants in the cold and the
business struggling to keep production
Not long after, the September 2010
earthquake hit and mangled 25 per cent
of the glasshouses. Supports snapped
and twisted, hydroponic trays broke
apart, and things were pretty messy.
In February 2011, an even bigger
earthquake caused even more damage.
Mr Davies recalls standing in the shop
with panes of glass exploding and shat-
tering all around him.
Mr Davies was called in from Otago to
spearhead the huge recovery effort.
Repairs are not complete yet, and the
cost so far has been massive.
Production manager Lenny Arkesteyn
said they were full steam ahead, but
repairs had cost more than $1.5 million
so far, with another three to five years of
recovery still on the cards.
A positive to come out of the devas-
tation is the now functioning
environmentally-friendly wood pellet
boiler, which replaced the pre-quake
Keeping roses warm is no cheap
undertaking. In winter, the boiler burns
seven tonnes of Environment
Canterbury-approved wood pellets a
day, and about a tonne a day in summer.
Losses are lower in glasshouses than
for open air growers.
The recovery has come just in time for
the biggest day of the year in the flori-
stry industry. Valentine s Day is upon
us, and when I spoke to Mr Davies, he
was part-way through shipping 140,000
The growth we ve had is incredible,
Mr Davies said. A lot of people are cyni-
cal about Valentine s Day, I was one of
But it s actually in line with all the
other days we celebrate for the people
we love -- Mother s Day, Father s Day.
Some people don t like the idea of
being told they must buy their love a
bunch of flowers on this particular day,
but the thing is, lots of people actually
need to be told or they never would.
My little rant about Valentines Day
is this: Roses don t bloom at the same
time, so we usually go through and just
pick what s ready. It s a constant supply.
For Valentines Day, we have to cut
back all the plants six weeks before to
make sure they all flower in time, and at
the same time, that s huge wastage. We
then spend the rest of the year trying to
get them out of sync again so we can go
back to constant supply.
A huge shipping container was
already stacked full of perfect red roses
and there were many more to come.
Flower sorters were working solidly to
grade and bunch pink, yellow, white,
and orange roses, and every colour in
Today is a great opportunity to put a
smile on your girlfriend s, wife s, part-
ner s, secret lover s face.
See page 7 to decipher the hidden
messages of roses of a certain colour.
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