Customer Testimonials - Cliff Orent
Challenge - Plant Protection and Propagation
Solution - FarmTek EZ-Build and Gro Cold Frame
Size - Four 30' long and one 50' long
Application - Rare rose growing and propagation, tropical plant protection
Location - Morongo Valley, CA
In 2001, Clifford Orent offered to help an elderly neighbor care for her roses. He had never planted a single rose bush. The neighborly gesture blossomed into a passion; and today Cliff maintains one of the largest and most diverse private rose collections in the United States. He grows over 5,000 roses and rose seedlings in the California high desert near Palm Springs.
A retired pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry executive, Cliff is an American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian and Horticultural Judge, immediate past president of the Desert Rose Society and currently a board member and editor of its newsletter, the Desert Rose. He is Co-chair of the 2009 ARS Fall National Convention and Rose Show in Palm Springs and is working with the Specialized Conservation Committee of the World Federation of Rose Societies in the identification and preservation of rare roses.
Cliff has imported roses from Europe for the past several years, most of which are not currently available in the United States. As an adjunct to his interest in preserving rare roses, he started a rose business to ensure that hard to find roses are made commercially available to rose growers across the country. The rose nursery, called EuroDesert Roses, is owned and operated by Cliff. "Euro" is a reminder that most of the roses were originally imported from Europe. And "Desert" is for the high desert location where the nursery is situated.
About a year ago, after moving from the low desert to the high desert, Cliff found himself challenged to grow and care for roses in a climate very different from what he was used to. In the high desert, the days are moderate in temperature, but the needle often drops below freezing during winter nights. Strong, high desert winds provide additional challenges. Cliff had used shade cloth in the low desert, and to some extent in the high desert, but he decided to purchase some FarmTek EZ-Build and Gro Cold Frames to protect his plants from freezing nights.
He explains that he was prompted to purchase the winter protection by his desire to protect his tropical plants, not his roses, from freezing temperatures. "Many tropical plants can grow without protection in the low desert," he says. "But it's too cold in this area for them to survive without protection. I was looking for a structure that was affordable, fairly easy to install and maintain. ...something that would allow me both to protect my tropical plants, which was the urgent need at the time... and expand to rose-related uses."
Cliff reveals that after his purchase, he raced "against the clock, and unfortunately... lost a number of tropical plants due entirely to [not putting] the cold frame up and [installing] the heater before the first frost." He says that he was "able to save many of them and, as it turned out, other uses [for the cold frames] became far more important."
"The biggest surprise for me," he admits, "was how many uses I found for the cold frames. They've been a tremendous asset in starting bare root roses in winter and in protecting young own-root plants and allowing them to grow and mature before having to face the elements. I started with one 30' cold frame and quickly added three additional 30' and one 50' cold frame(s). These additional cold frames have been used primarily to propagate rose cuttings for the new business."
Cliff encourages hobbyists and commercial growers to use cold frames. He says "from a business perspective, using cold frames allows [propagation] throughout the year, adding at least one, if not two cycles through the winter, which would not otherwise be possible." He continues, "for my personal rose collection, there's no question that starting my bare-root roses in cold frames has resulted in a higher success rate in leafing out and, more important, has allowed the plants to rapidly grow and mature before exposing them to the elements."