Every flower is an opportunity

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Located on the fertile volcanic soil of the Dandenong ranges, only 50 minutes from Melbourne, is Rhodoglen Nursery. Camellias, Rhododendron and Buxus are the main products that grow here. Every year, around 80,000 plants are sold to independent garden centres all over (east and south) Australia. To make its plants stand out on every shelf in the country, the nursery applies Osmocote CRFs for stronger plants and longer shelf-life. Andrew Raper, one of the owners of Rhodoglen Nursery: “We are constantly experimenting with our plants in terms of performance, size, shape and flowers, because every extra flower is another opportunity for either us or our customers to sell. Osmocote helps us create strong and healthy plants that will remain fresh for a long time.”

Family business
Rhodoglen Nursery is a family business that Andrew’s father started. The whole family was involved and Andrew himself started working in the nursery at the age of 12. Though at some point Andrew wanted to become a geologist, he never regretted his decision to start working in the business instead. Because it was growing Camellias that really pressed his buttons. Andrew: “I love the consistency of these plants. They are so reliable and have great flowers, and it’s just a beautiful sight. I love growing them.”

Then and now
The biggest difference between the nursery during his father’s time and now, under Andrew’s supervision, is that there is much more control over the range of products sold. Andrew: “My father grew plants and hoped that they would sell, while now we control the process and know exactly what to grow, the ranges to grow and the sizes to grow. We focus on margins and listen to what our customers want, but we will still introduce new products to them exclusively and that delivers loyalty.”

ICL: Trust, consistency, loyalty
Andrew had been using ICL products for decades and is very happy with his collaboration with ICL. Andrew: “Osmocote has always been consistent. We build on trust, consistency and loyalty and ICL gives us that relationship.” Osmocote Exact 12-14M, Osmocote Exact 8-9M and Osmocote Topdress 3-4M are amongst the fertilizers Andrew is using throughout his business. Andrew: “I don’t want my plants to look ‘done’ when they are in the garden centres. Osmocote gives my plants the strength and increases the shelf life significantly.” Andrew is currently trialling Osmocote 5 in collaboration with the local ICL team, in the hope it will improve trace element delivery later in the growth cycle.

Together we know more
We all realize that the more we know, the better we can control the results. Data is key. Testing, trialling and benchmarks, there are many ways to become more knowledgeable. Andrew: “Some knowledge I gain myself through trialling and in our Victorian market we are happy to share knowledge. When a competitor has the same problem as I do, we will join forces to solve the problem together. The market is big and strong enough to support each other. A lot of knowledge is also funded by the industry supply chains and R&D. Having ICL as a back-up is a great example of that. With ICL, I always have an expert view on any growing challenge.”

Gardening trends
Andrew is always experimenting with his plant breeding to see what gives the best results. Smaller plants, bigger plants, more flowers, more leaf: as demand changes so does Rhodoglen Nursery. Andrew: “Who knew ten years ago that indoor plants would be such a ‘thing’? Trends change, and we need to change with them. Although we don’t grow indoor plants, people want more compact plants that need less maintenance, so my Camellia breeding is looking to satisfy that need without any compromise on the quality. Our success depends on listening to our customers and looking ahead for new products. Customers know they can rely on us.”