Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Featured Flower: Eriostemon

Eriostemon (family Rutaceae)
This month marks the return of the popular cut green Eriostemon. It has a nice vase life and a pleasant citrus scent. It will be in season for about a month.

Update March 26th: The season for Eriostemon has passed. Hope you had an opportunity to enjoy them!

Kimiko Kitayama turns 90!

Kimiko and Robert Kitayama
This past weekend we celebrated my mothers 90th birthday.  At first she did not want a party, ”what’s the big deal about turning 90?”.  But it is a big deal and a lot of people wanted to share in her celebration.   As a little time passed she warmed up to the idea and soon we had the makings of a nice event.  The party was composed of mainly Fuji and Kitayama family members, many who had traveled across the country to attend.  One reason  so many family members attended is my mother is an amazing person and represents our “greatest generation,” the Nisei.  The Nisei are second generation Japanese Americans who were born in the USA just before WW II and famously were sent to Relocation Camps after Pearl Harbor even though they were American citizens.  The distinguishing feature of the Nisei were how they were able to prosper after WWII  without resources and facing a potentially hostile post WWII  America.    The Kitayamas left camp in Idaho and moved to Northern California and after 2 years of working for other flower growers were able to scrap together a little money to buy a piece of land in unincorporated Alameda County.   One of the first neighbors who welcomed and helped the Kitayamas were the Fuji family who had been growing carnations from before the war.  Kimiko was one of six Fuji siblings who knew the four Kitayama brothers.  My father Ray married Kiyome Kato and they had 4 children.  Kiyome sadly passed away in 1976 after battling cancer for several years.  Ray and Kimiko renewed their friendship after many years and were married in 1977.

Kimiko has been my mother now for 35 years.  Those years included; my graduating from high school and college, travel and “finding” myself, marriage, kids and career.  I needed support and guidance and received it from both my parents and the rest of my extended family.  Kitayama Brothers is about flowers and family.   Our success is our ability to work together as family.  We use the example of my parents and aunts and uncles that built our company  as the model for how the company should be run.  We also make sure our kids understand our history and a sense of responsibility to keep our legacy growing.

Thank you mom for who you are and how you inspire your family.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2011 Top 100 US Floral Industry Leaders

Earlier this week, someone sent me the “2011 Top 100 US Floral Industry Leaders,” created by William Armellini of  I emailed him to thank him for including the Kitayamas, and to tell him, “you are a brave man."   I agree that the names he included are leaders in the floral industry, but as is often the case with this type of list, it is the names that are not included which create all the controversy.  However, in William’s defense he did not state this was the “correct” list, but his own list.

William Armellini's Top 100 List
published at
I was told by my brother Scott of Greenleaf Wholesale before I met William, “you will like William, he is a black sheep just like you.”  And Scott was right, I do like William, and I think we are similar because we have opinions and we like to have a good time, even though is William is much better at it than I.  William will no doubt get some grief, but I appreciate his candor.  In William's spirit, there are a few names I would add.  My additions reflect the fact I am west-coast based and mainly work with growers, shippers and the wholesale side of the business:
  • Shimi Shibata: Mt Eden
  • Shinoda Family: San Lorenzo Nursery
  • Van Wingerden Family: Several Flower Companies
  • Mike Mellano: Mellano
  • Ben Haley Denver Wholesale
  • Ken Tagawa: Tagawa Bros. & Denver Wholesale
  • Leo Roosen: Washington Bulb
  • Suyeyasu Family: Suyeyasu Co.
Who would you add to the list? Let us know!

Monday, February 6, 2012

CC on Floral Trends

Good article on this year's flower trends by Carly Cylinder on Huffington Post. She predicts that many of the trends we saw last year, such as Modern Rustic, High Fashion Romance, Metallic, Unusual Bouquets and Patterns, will continue with new variations. Colors: Colbalt blue, raspberry, coral and emerald. Flowers: garden roses, Sage, Jasmine, Dahlias, Wheat, Sweet Peas and Queen Anne's Lace. Article includes a slideshow.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Valentine's Day Crop From KB Farms

In this video KB CEO/President Robert Kitayama tours the Kitayama processing floor and greenhouses as they prepare their Valentine's Day crop for distribution. See the freshly harvested lilies and Gerbera daisies, and flowers in the greenhouse that will be at their peak just in time for the holiday. Everyone on the KB staff thinks that this has been one of their best Valentine's Day harvests ever!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

KB Farms Greenhouse Tour

If you can't see the slideshow above, click here to see it on flickr.

These snapshots were taken during a tour of KB (Kitayama Brothers) Farms in Watsonville, situated on the Monterey Bay near Sunset Beach. If you click on the slideshow in full-screen mode, you will get the captions.