January 10th, 2018
Today we embark on a journey to Ecuador. It’s close to Valentine’s Day season and we will be visiting our farms. Most cultivate roses and others are growers of calla lilies, asiatic and oriental lilies, and other focal flowers and fillers. Our flight takes off at 3:55 p.m. and we arrive at 7:55 p.m.
Arrival at Quito, Ecuador
As we descended into the city of Quito, from the plane we could see all the lights from the city below us along the mountains illuminated in the darkness. The view was breathtaking. After collecting our luggage we made our way 20 minutes to our quaint “hosteria” called San Jose in Puembo with historical roots. The property even has a corral with farm animals including llamas, sheep, chickens, and peacocks.
January 11th, 2018
Calla Lily Farm (Guayllabamba)
Our day began bright and early at 8 a.m. as we toured farms north of Quito. We met with the owner of the largest calla lily grower in South America. The skies were clear and the sun was gleaming, the weather was cool and breezy.
We toured the outdoor nurseries and all the processing facilities. Calla lilies are grown out in canopy nurseries while others are completely out in the sunlight. Those out in the sunlight produce intense colors and bicolor hues. A complex process goes into growing calla lilies. The bulbs are dug up from the ground and it can take about 10 months for it to produce flowers.
Apart from calla lilies, this farm also produces focal and filler flowers such as larkspur, bells of Ireland, craspedia, asiatic lilies and oriental lilies, and so many other varieties. All these flowers are exported internationally to floral wholesale companies like Virgin Farms. Then they are distributed to floral designers and event florists here in the United States.
Rose Farm (Cumbayá)
Our day of touring continued at a rose farm near Cumbayá. We learned that roses are grown from a mother plant and varieties are created by cross-breeding. When roses are harvested it takes 90 days for it to produce flowers again. For holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, the plants are pinched, which encourages new shoots and allows agriculturalists to calculate the exact cycle to project when the roses will be ready.
It’s a complex science and involves adjustments along the way, although nature is always unpredictable. Just enough sunlight and cool weather is necessary to keep the roses growing on schedule. Rain is also necessary but too much can affect the soil. Many of the rose farms have techniques or equipment to help adjust these fluctuations throughout the growing process.
Our day ended with a detour to a town called Quinche situated between Puembo and Pichincha. We visited a church and a famous bakery. Check out our next blog post for the continuation!