Rosebie Morton is the UK's leading grower of scented roses, founder of The Real Flower Company and owner of sweetpeasdirect.com. Once deemed as completely mad; with the word 'rose' featuring in her very name; Rosebie has never understood why anybody would wish to buy, let alone grow flowers with absolutely no scent......
She has brought horticulture and the cultivation of scented garden roses in particular to many people’s attention within the industry since 1998. She grows all her 30,000 scented roses across 17 different varieties, roughly 150 species of English flowers including a huge range of Dahlias, Peonies and Hydrangeas, plenty of annuals, wild flowers plus aromatic herbs and foliage on 11 acres of chalk soil nestled within the beautiful rolling Hampshire countryside around Hinton Ampner. On average she is cutting 300,000 stems per year.
The most popular Roses are Margaret Merril and Chandos Beauty (both Harkness bred), Evelyn (bred by Austin) and Just Joey (by Cants of Colchester) and the season usually runs from the end of May until the first main frosts, which last year meant Rosebie was still harvesting into November! Foliage continues to be cut throughout the year whilst in spring Hellebores and Lilly of the Valley are in demand.
Following much trial and error, and horrifying industry players who thought she was completely mad, she pursued her fascination with growing scented roses from her walled garden, later experimenting disastrously in a wheat field before recognising the benefits of, admittedly not as attractive, but practical, plastic polytunnels. During winter months, the roses are grown and supplied from a Kenyan farm situated at the base of Mount Kenya run by her fellow directors, Tim & Maggie Hobbs. Most of what the Hampshire and Kenyan farms grow supplies the online retail operation, the Real Flower Company, but plenty of produce is also sold at Covent Garden as well as various London farmer’s markets during the summer, and also from the Hampshire Rose Paddock farm gate. Rosebie regularly exhibits at Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court Flower Festival where she delivers humorous and informative talks on cultivating roses under the vagaries of the English weather system.
Rosebie's frustration at the lack of scent in English floral bouquets and cut flowers resulted in her establishing her own florist, The Real Flower Company back in 2002. Her vision was to deliver generously tied bouquets of scented blooms with natural blemishes, wayward stems and vibrant colours to blow her customers' senses and make them wake up to the beauty of garden flowers as well as the power of scent. As of January 2015 the Real Flower Company became sole distributor of David Austin's floral bouquets and his bridal collection.
From May to November each year she can be regularly spotted marching down the aisles of The Rose Paddock which is open by arrangement for Garden Visits, Tours and all day Workshops. The paddock never fails to inspire both novices and professional gardeners alike, with its extraordinary mix of over 150 different species whose colours, textures and scents are mesmerising. The site is completely wrong for rose growing with a ph of 7.8 and solid chalk but this adds even more credence to Rosebie’s mission.
As a young girl, Rosebie's family moved home frequently. Amongst the piles of packing cases, the roses always came too. Rosebie’s mother, a passionate gardener, passed the gardening addiction to Rosebie and introduced her to Margaret Merril, (bred by Harkness), the quintessential English rose with an award winning citrus scent which Rosebie heralds as the raison d’être behind her career.
Rosebie Morton now in her early 50s has three children at university and a wonderfully down to earth farmer husband who parks his second hand Cessna immediately outside their back door. Her own garden is a constant, delightfully fragrant work in progress, with many a plant nurturing experiment underway.
She also grows sweet peas under glass near Chichester, but runs this as a separate entity with Waitrose being her main customer. These equally exquisitely scented blooms are available to order online.
DETAILED INFORMATION CAN BE VIEWED AT: