An interview with a NZ Peony Grower: WAIREPO PEONIES

Peonies (herbaceous cut flowers) were first planted in the gardens at Wairepo in 1991. Today the large, vibrant and luscious flowers that they grow have become one of the most popular and sought after flowers grown in New Zealand. With such a short season (Oct-late December) they are a very popular choice for summertime events such as weddings.

Demand for Peonies has grown so high that they have extended their Peonies Gardens several times. The gardens now cover 2 full acres at Wairepo.

For the last 7 years, Matthew Easton has run the day to day management of the Peonies.

He took some time to answer our questions below. Read on to find out more about growing Peonies in New Zealand:

1) When was your business founded?

First commercialised crop in 1993

2) Have flowers always been your primary crop?

Wairepo started with apples, now have 70h commercial apple crop and packhouse.

3) Is it a family run business? If so who are the family members involved?

Yes it is a family run operation.Older brother and his partner, mother and father all involved in the day to day running of the farm.

4) How do you grow your product lines? (under glass? In trays? Etc)

All our peonies are grown outside.We have considered tunnel houses, maybe in the future.

5) How to you pick/process your product lines?

All peony stems are select picked on the plant and processed and graded in the packing shed.Then stored in the coolstores at 1-2 degrees.

6) Tell us what you love about growing flowers for the NZ market.

I like the challenges each year brings eg. weather, staff, quality.Producing a quality product for people to enjoy.I like the camaraderie amongst the staff over the flower season, working hard.

7) How many stems per season do you produce in each of your product lines?

We should crack 200,000 stems this year with 30% heading to local market.Varieties we grow include coral charm, coral sunset, red charm, bridal shower, bowl of cream, madame claude tain, sarah bernhardt, which are all mainstream varieties.

8) How do you keep up with the trends in the market?

In recent years we have focused in planting more white varieties.We try to have a broad spectrum of colours and varieties to cover bases and listen to advice of the exporters.

9) How many staff does it take to keep your business running?

During the height of the peony season we have 9 people working out in the fields and another 8 people working in the packing shed.We are lucky to have orchard staff to call on.

10) What makes NZ Grown Products superior to the rest?

We just try to make out product the best we can make it.

11) Explain more about the plant propagation side of your business please

We buy our tuber stock from nurseries.Or growers getting out of the business.