Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lily Days in Holland

Which do you like best?

I was in Holland at the beginning of June for Lily Days.  This is a time of year when the bulb hybridizers in Holland show off their lily varieties to growers from around the world.  I was with a group of California growers, we were hosted by Flamingo Bulbs and Onings Bulbs - KB’s largest bulb suppliers.  

Holland is such an amazing place to visit for a flower grower, the Dutch are so much more advanced when it comes to greenhouse technology.  Thank god we have such better climate to grow in. 

While viewing the vast array of lilies old and new, it occurred to me that KB doesn’t take many risks when it comes to varieties.  The Dutch tell me there are certain countries, especially in Europe where growers have to grow the new varieties every year because the customers expect to see new varieties.  

Then there are countries like China and the USA where everyone grows the same varieties because they are comfortable and familiar with those varieties.  Our production and sales department are the same way.  They say the customers do not want to try new varieties and if we offer them something different, they say they will just get what they want somewhere else.   

Here is a slide show with some novelty Asiatics, LA hybrids, Orientals and OT lilies, some old, some new.  I am interested in some feedback if you like the novelty bi-color lilies on the first 6 slides of the slide show. 


Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 KB Cup “Iron Designer” Is…

The ONLY details provided and 10 entered.

Here's the KB Cup behind-the-scene story.

Two months of brainstorming, behind the scenes work to marketing and promoting of the 2015 KB Cup Floral Design Competition resulted in an exciting and fun event at this year’s KB Open House. A blog on our KB Open House coming soon(KB is a part of the annual Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House Tour)

I love and believe in the KB Cup Floral Design Competition because it benefits everyone: giving back to our community (all of KB proceeds are donated to Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks), supporting our floral industry by educating and entertaining the general public, recognizing the amazing talents of designers and of course, an opportunity to showcase KB grown flowers.

In order to truly appreciate the KB Cup "Iron Chef" Challenge, let me share all the details behind the final results. Typically, I do not post anything this long and lengthy, but in this case, I believe it's a journey worth reading for 10 minutes. Like and share if you agree.  

In the Blind - Judges & Competitors

On Tuesday 6/16, 
our judges: Steven Brown AIFD (City College of San Francisco
Environmental Horticulture/Floristry Department Chair), Jenny Tabarracci AIFD, CFD
(Instructor/Designer - City College of San Francisco Environmental Horticulture/Floristry) and Susan Ishkanian, AIFD (Freelance Designer) received the final details.

Yes, we also kept the "secrets" from our judges! 

On Friday, the day before the competition, our competitors found out the KB Cup will not be a two-level divisional competition, instead it will be one competition for all. SURPRISE! 

During the random table selections, I discovered an empty table. Talk about being spontaneous, 5 minutes before the competition, Lily Lum-Chan was cheered on (some would say peer pressured) to compete. It was meant to be, Greg Lum had some extra tools for her! 

Creativity under Pressure

No glue. No tape. No wires. No prep-work. Oh My! No clue until the day of the competition and per round surprises. The only allowed tools were scissor, plier, pruner, stemwrap and knife.  

The competition theme was Designing for Men ~ Happy Father's Day. Our designers were given only one foam to use for the entire competition. 

Round 1 - Designer's Freestyle - 15 minutes to select 15 stems and design (9" dish)
Round 2 - Top 7 were given a Mystery Box - 10 minutes to think, be creative and design (6" container and 1 stem aspidistra, 1 stem KB mini calla lily, 1 stem KB gerrondo, 1 stem KB stock and 1 stem KB lisianthus)

At this point, the pressure definitely went up a notch or two...5 stems?! 10 minutes?!

Final round - the top 5 received the 2 secret stems (1 KB mini calla lily, 1 KB gerbera) and the 1 secret small prop was a golf ball with holes! They had 15 minutes total to select 8 more stems using all 3 secret items to create a design for a golfer's dinner party. (1/3" cage w/foam)

A few of the competition designs here. 
We'll be posting many more pictures throughout the week.

 3rd Place ~ So-Yeon Kim (Student – City College of SF Floristry Dept)

2nd Place ~ Lily Lum-Chan, AIFD

People's Choice Award ~ Greg Lum, AIFD, EMC (Flowers Indeed!)

The 2015 KB Cup Winner ~ Hee Joo

She defeated 9 other talented designers among them... 
the 3 years in a row KB Cup Floral Design Competition Winner,
Greg Lum.

Adding to the final moments of excitement, Greg was in the final round...
Robert announced 3rd and 2nd places, a pause to retrieve the KB Cup trophy.

And the KB Cup winner is...TABLE 10!
(Silence followed by screams was what I remembered) 

Thanks everyone, let's do it again next year!

(Left to right) Judges: Susan Ishkanian, Steven Brown and Jenny Tabarracci. 2015 KB Cup Winner Hee Joo (table 10), 2nd Place Lily Chan, 5 minutes before competition entry! (table 8), 3rd Place So-Yeon Kim (table 4) and the People's Choice Greg Lum.

Linda Nguyen

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Yoshimi Shibata: 100 Years of Flower Growing

Shimi Shibata celebrates his 100th

Two weekends ago, I accompanied my mother, Uncle Ted, Auntie Heidi and Cousin Barbara to celebrate Shimi Shibata’s 100th birthday celebration in Palo Alto. 

Yoshimi Shibata, Uncle Ted and Grace Shibata

For those who don’t know Shimi, he was the President of Mt Eden Nursery and Mt Eden Wholesale Florist

Shimi has accomplishments that are too long to list, but it is not an exaggeration to say that the Northern California flower business flourished because of his support of immigrant flower growers, and developing the technology to ship flowers across the country.  

Rob and Alex Shibata (Shimi's son and grandson)

Andy, Mrs. Matsui, Uncle Ted and Jun Uchida

Much of the Kitayama Brothers’ success was the result of their relationship with Shimi and his family.  My father Ray came to Northern California after WW II ended because he heard the Shibatas were hiring Japanese-Americans, not everybody was so willing after WWII.  Shimi shared his knowledge and wisdom with my father and uncles who used this experience to open their own nursery.

Over the years, we may have been competitors but there was always the respect and knowledge of how much Shimi helped our family.  

On his 100th we all offer Shimi our thanks and continued health.

Mike Suyeuyasu and Brad Beck

George Nishimura and Jack and Mrs. Van Namenlin

The Garcia Family came all the way from Atlanta!


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Meet the 2015 KB Cup Judges

KB Cup Floral Design Competition
during KB Open House,
a benefit event for 
Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks!
(KB is part of the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Tour)


Steven W. Brown AIFD
City College of San Francisco
Environmental Horticulture/Floristry Department Chair

Mr. Brown has been teaching at CCSF for the past 29 years. And has been serving as faculty elected Chair for the Environmental Horticulture/Floristry Department for fifteen years. Steven's goal is to provide students with the best possible learning experience and environment possible in Horticulture and Floral Design.

Steven represents City College's Horticulture program in/at many related groups and organizations including: the American Institute of Floral Designers, California State Florists Association (Board Member), Master Florists Association (Board Member), Ikebana International (Lifetime member), the San Francisco Conservatory Advisory Board, Specialty Cut Flowers Growers Association, Teleflora's Northern California/Nevada Unit (Board Member), and is an Honorary member of the San Francisco Garden Club and San Francisco Gardener Apprenticeship Advisory. He is a founding co-president of the Organization of Floral Art Designers, a Board Member of Master Florists Association. Steven is a Certified Floral Designer (CFD) and a California Certified Florist. 

He has been published in the Florist Review: "Care and Handling of Cut Flowers" and Super Floral Retail: "Cut Flower of the Month" and "Blooming Plant of the Month". Steven is co-author of Teleflora's: "Green and Blooming Plants".

Part of the annual Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House
KB Open House part of the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Tour

Jenny Tabarracci AIFD, CFD, CFJ
City College of San Francisco
Environmental Horticulture/Floristry

Jenny Tabarracci is an Instructor in the Environmental Horticulture and Floristry department at City College of San Francisco with over 20 years of experience in the floral industry.  She is the lead advisor/coach for the college’s national champion floral design team.

Jenny graduated with honors from California State University, Sacramento, earning a BA in Fine Arts. .  She has a Certificate of Retail Floristry from City College of San Francisco, where she was an award winning student.

Jenny began her career as a retail flower shop owner in San Anselmo, CA.  She has freelanced for many floral design companies, such as West Portal Floral Company, Michael Daigian Floral Design and Julie Stevens Floral and Event Design.

Jenny is actively involved in the industry and a member of the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) where she is recognized as a Certified Evaluator and Judge.  She has served on the AIFD Northwest Regional board of directors and presented in programs at AIFD National Symposiums.

Benefit Event for Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Susan Ishkanian is a freelance designer from the Bay Area  

She is a graduate of San Mateo Floristry and Horticulture programs.  During the past 12 years, she has focused on high end weddings and corporate events.  She is currently a board member of AIFD's Northwestern Region.  

Earlier this year, Susan was a committee member responsible in coordinating the AIFD floral exhibit at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show in San Mateo.   She was one of the judges three years ago at the Kitayama Brothers Floral Design Competition for the student level division.  She has worked with float designs for Fiesta Parade Floats for the Tournament Rose Bowl parade for the past three years.

Deadline to Enter: June 12th

Friday, May 8, 2015

You're Invited - Saturday June 20 (10am-4pm)

It’s that time of year again when KB doors and gates are open, and everyone is invited! 

Left & bottom pictures are copyrighted by the Regents of the University of California 

Admission is FREE and the best part is…
it’s a benefit event for Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Picture from Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Picture from Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

This year, we’re bringing back the very popular KB Cup Floral Design Competition 
but we must have the minimums met by June 1 in order to host the competition. 

We’re looking for 1 more judge, 9 (open division) and 10 (level 1) competitors: 
already confirmed 2 judges and 1 open division.  

Linda Nguyen

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

KB Holiday Report

Happy Mother’s Day 2015

Just a quick update on Mother’s Day from KB Farm.  We are having a very good Mother’s Day.  Our sales are slightly ahead of last year for the same days sales.  

We will probably end ahead because we will sell out all of our flowers by the end of the week. The quality has been very good and FRESH since we have to use the same day cut to fill orders.  Here are a couple of pictures from the packing and grading room floor.

Happy Patty bunching gardenias.

Rich going over his orders.

Post Mother’s Day

I also took a walk with Jimmy (the grower) to see what the crop will look like after Mother’s Day.  There will be plenty of gardenias, lisianthus and gerberas, so order up. 

The BIG problem will be lilies.  There will be very few pink oriental lilies because of bulb issues and the container strike holdup. I believe all lily growers will be in the same boat.  Please talk to your KB salesperson about options. 

KB Gerberas

KB Gardenias

KB Lilies

We hope everyone has a great Mother’s Day and thank you all for your orders, 
and support during this big holiday!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bouquets to Art

"Yes, I was an engineer, but I gave it up to do what I love."
"No, I'm not making money, but I am happy."

Those were the words of the floral designer, here with her design.

Every year, I look forward to the opening night gala of Bouquets to Art at the de Young 
I always admire and appreciate the beautiful interpretative floral designs, 
and am very mindful of the hard work behind the amazing finished WOW. 

Simply put: a night of wonder shared with friends... 
(catching up with old ones and making new ones)

For the entire album, like us on Facebook 

Thanks for this picture Jenny! Jenny Tabarracci AIFD
City College of San Francisco Students and their floral fashions. Thanks Jenny!
Carol & Stuart Kitayama

Linda Nguyen