Pickering Nurseries Announcement

the_morden_man((Z4-Z5) Ontario, Canada)August 14, 2014

Not sure if this has been posted here yet already, but this was new news to me.

It's a sad day for rose lovers everywhere. They have been in apparent decline for a few years now, but they were once the de facto standard for roses on multiflora understock.

Go to their website for the details:


Here is a link that might be useful: Pickering Nurseries Homepage

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jerijen(Zone 10)

More bad news. :-(

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:50PM
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sam 4b Adirondacks

The own roots in 2016 sounds good.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 11:03PM
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Hybridizer royalty rates have increased? I understand the hybridizers have to make a living and are not getting rich, except for Mr. Austin and Herr Kordes, but why now? Are they not pricing themselves out of their market?

NAFTA, that we all know and love, strikes again with the cheap US grown roses putting a good nursery almost out of business.

Can I legally drive to Canada, buy roses, and mail them to myself in the US?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 11:49PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

One problem for Pickering was that they were charged for every bud of plants of a certain hybridizer, even if the bud didn't take or if the plant didn't sell. That made it almost impossible for them to make a profit when they were offering roses by that hybridizer that weren't sell-out popular.

Any roses imported to the US have to have a phytosanitary certificate. That is more than just mailing them to yourself. I do know that a bunch of folks near Lexington KY would place an order to nurseries in Canada and then drive up and get them WITH a phytosanitary and stay with the plants as they crossed the border coming home.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:01AM
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seil zone 6b MI

The times, they are a changin'...

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:03AM
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I don't know all the royalties which supposedly increased, but the per bud charge originated with Mr. Austin. Traditionally, the way it worked was royalties were paid for every plant successfully raised and sold. If they died or weren't sold, nothing was paid. Mr. Austin changed all that, demanding his royalties for every bud supplied, period. It didn't make any difference whether they took or not, or if the entire crop died in the field. He got his. His royalty charges were higher than anyone else's and his licensing agreements were rather outrageous. At one time, if you wanted to carry his new roses, you were forbidden by the licensing agreement to sell any of his earlier roses he felt "obsolete". His definition of obsolete was any rose Hortico had introduced into the North American market before Austin had any patents on them. Since he couldn't patent them, he began trademarking their names so you could sell the rose, but you couldn't use the trade names for them without paying him for the privilege. Those were the Austin roses Vintage used to only sell by the breeder's codes, the 'AUS' names. They could sell Heritage as as Ausblush without owning any royalties, but once they mentioned Heritage, they were on the hook for payment and could be sued for it.

One year, he began licensing each introducer to carry only a small group of the new roses, giving them 'exclusives' on them. If they wanted to also carry some of the ones the competitors had licensed, they had to make licensing agreements between them and pay extra royalties to the Austin machine for their agreements. Austin Roses refused to allow introducers to pick and choose the ones they wanted to promote. You bought his selection for you and worked out cross licensing agreements with the increased royalties with your competitors or you didn't sell the new roses. Those were a few of the reasons for the complaints that Austin treated the US as his personal ATM. They were also the reasons Arena Roses chose not to sell the new Austin roses, but continued selling a few of the tried and true for the warmer areas of the country. He also began promoting the Poulsen roses instead. The marketing was great for their profits, but painful and counter productive for introducers and customers. Kim

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 4:05AM
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ratdogheads(5b NH)


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 5:44AM
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Campanula UK Z8

yeah, the Austins are our Knockouts - am truly sick of those bloated and frilly monsters....but marketing is a blunt weapon of mass destruction where innovation and creativity is concerned.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:36AM
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musaboru(Inland Calif.)

Pickering was great. I am sad to see them go. They were there to provide me with Rose de Rescht and I will treasure this plant as a souvenir from Pickering.

Thanks for the info Kim. So I guess that explains why DA roses in the green pot and all cost $44 for a 5 gal pot at a local nursery.

I don't find it outrageous DA is charging for budwood to use for propagation (I assume these budwood are provided by DA). Isn't this model long used in other types of non-patented plants such as citrus? But if DA is charging per bud taken from mother plants the propagator already own, I think that is outrageous.

I thought it was legal to propagate pantented plants (not just roses) as long as you don't intend to sell it. After all, mother nature does come into play in every garden and you may "accidently" wind up with multiples of a patented plant through division or suckers or stolons, etc. And only if you do plan on selling patented material, isn't that were the royalty fee should come into play?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 11:57AM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)


Guessing it is the same with roses, but I went to a pruning demo that had a rep from a big fruit tree company doing the talk. Some one asked if they could have the part removed for their home orchard use and boy did we get a quick lesson in this is protected bud wood and you can buy the plant but anything pruned is protected property of them

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:36PM
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Musaboro, Austins cost $44 a piece because they CAN. Part is because of the royalty cost, part is because the market will bear it. The green pots are the plants purchased FROM Austin, aren't they? I've not shopped the green pots as I don't keep up with his introductions. You can easily see from his nursery site how much he feels his offerings are worth simply from the prices. His roses don't require any more effort to produce than anyone else's budded or own root plant do. Why else should they cost so much more? You're paying for the brand, period. Like buying designer jeans instead of Wranglers.

Yes, many plants reproduce themselves and as long as you're not selling the divisions, there are no royalties involved. You aren't "propagating" them as it is the nature of the plant to colonize. When you take a hand in reproducing the plant through rooting, budding/grafting, layering, etc., you are violating the patent protection. A budded rose plant isn't normally going to reproduce itself asexually, producing separate plants. Perhaps if planted so the scion is under soil so it roots itself, it may result in an increase in the number of plants from that original bud. Separating them and offering them to other people would, I think, be a violation, but just growing the plant and not producing copies of it wouldn't. That's a gray area you and I are going to probably feel much different about than the Austin Machine.

As far as I know, the per bud charge pertains to all buds, whether they provide them or they come from your stock plants. At least that is the way it was when I had access to the process. It's difficult to police and requires a great deal more accounting than the traditional historic US method of simply charging royaties on the number of plants sold. That is also going to raise costs quite a bit, plus it's a pain in the neck. It's easy to see why Pickering made the decision not to offer many patented roses last year. I don't blame them. Kim

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:45PM
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Hortico has picked up some of the Pickering roses.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:48PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

"bloated and frilly monsters"? campanula, my sweet old Austin rose Potter and Moore is hanging its leaves in dismay. I don't have any of the latest productions and can't speak for them, but Kim's description of what seems to be inordinate greed is enough to make me stay away from the Austine money machine. A decent profit, yes; making others pay through the nose in order to be able to choose the Austins they want to sell seems sneaky and underhanded.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:06PM
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true_blue (MTL CAN Z4)(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

I feel as if lost a close friend.

Kim you gave me a very strong incentive to rip off my one and only Austin.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 12:38PM
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Sad news yet again.... Sad to hear of the passing of the main man there too. The rose gardens of Heaven will be well cared for though.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 4:04PM
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I must comment to nastarana - I don't think you know much about the commercial rose business or royalties. It takes about 10-12 years of research before a variety is released into commerce and the guess is that only one or 2 out of 100,000 seedlings from a hybridization program ever make it to the market. It is extremely expensive to have a commercial rose breeding program which is why there are so few of them in the world. I don't think anyone is getting rich from breeding roses and most of the companies that breed roses make most of their money from production of roses bushes. Austin does have a very high royalty but in their defense they also spend a lot of the money they bring in on a lot of very nice advertising which is very expensive.

Pickering was at a disadvantage in that it is much cheaper to grow rose bushes in California and Arizona than in Canadian climates. Growing on multi flora should have been a good market advantage as none in these other growing areas uses this root stock. Joel also made the mistake of bringing his root stock from Europe - there is a 2 year quarantine before this material can enter the USA so he was unable to send the roses he budded into the USA as planned which hurt his business.

Roses travel both ways and these Canadian companies have shipped many roses into the USA probably more than they have sold in Canada. So remember that NAFTA works from both sides. I am always surprised that Canadians don't support the Canadian companies more by buying the home grown roses - something like the eat local campaign. Consumers can really change markets if they want to...

As far as going to Canada and buying roses and then bringing them back you face the same issue as Pickering - you will need to have a phyto-sanitary permit and yes they cost money. Roses traveling to Canada from the USA have the same requirement and it is expensive to get the permits to send just a few roses.

I wish Joel much success in the future.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 9:37PM
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LongAgo Roses sells some of the earlier English roses under their AUSnames. I think the proprietor doesn't bother with the newer varieties. It is not readily apparent, from what I can tell, that the newer, patented varieties are any significant improvement over the best of the early cultivars. Gardeners who like these roses soon learn to recognize the AUSnames. Maybe Pickering would be well advised to let someone else have the newer varieties.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 9:39PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)


Need any green pots? I have a bunch of them being used as a mini wall and ironically holding red pelagroniums that get no water.....

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 9:47PM
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Hi Kippy, "Green pots"? You mean Monrovia pots or something else? If they're two gallons, sure, please! If they're ones, I'm good with as many ones as I can handle, thank you. Or, are they something else? Thanks. Kim

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 9:50PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Green DA pots complete with a foo foo badge. :)

Still working on collecting a bunch of 2gs for ya though

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 11:02PM
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Thank you. So, they're twos or fives? I should be able to use them, thank you! Kim

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 11:13PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

How many 5g's can you use? those are easy

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 12:09AM
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Perhaps a dozen, please? Now, twos, I can use all I can get. That's the size I push seedlings into before I make the final cuts. Thank you! Kim

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 12:43AM
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Campanula, I might be burned in effigy for saying so, but how you feel about the "bloated and frilly monsters", is how I feel about the oeuvre of Dr. Griffith Buck. Rank heresy for an American gardener, but I think what Dr. Buck was good at was naming roses. Every cultivar has an evocative name which sounds like it comes right out of mid20thC advertising. I dreamed I danced in my Maidenform under an April Moon. They were playing Malaguena when we met over a glass of Seagrams' Gin.

There are now, and have been, breeders working hard to develop hardy roses in North America, such as Mr. Radler, Mr. Horvath, Mr. Jerabec and others. I am no fan of KO. but Radler has gone on to introduce a line of repeat blooming, disease resistant, hardy climbers which look very interesting indeed. Then there is Mr. Bugnet, introducer of Therese, Marie and Louis Bugnets. I know of no Buck rose which enjoys the universal acclaim or approaches the generally recognized excellence of Therese Bugnet.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 7:11PM
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That's funny, Nastrana! I enjoyed your "Robin Williams moment"! Dr. Buck's primary "problem" was, he never had any great distribution. Iowa State paid him, but never supported his roses. Roses of Yesterday and Today introduced the majority of them, but you could never call them a "major player" in the industry. He needed a Monrovia, J&P, Armstrong, CP even Week's at their mightiest. Unfortunately, he never enjoyed it during his lifetime. Kim

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:03PM
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nastarana, perhaps your opinion of Dr. Buck's roses was distorted if your samples were infected with one or more viruses. My original copy of Carefree Beauty was fabulous. Later I purchased another which was nowhere close to the original.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:47PM
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true_blue (MTL CAN Z4)(Mtl Can Zone 4b)

Newroses, I was sort of surprised by your comment. Why do you think Canadians don't support their local business?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 4:07PM
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