News & diary
Happy 50th anniversary to Ludwig’s Roses!
It’s an early Friday morning and the dew is still fresh underfoot. Here and there people are already putting their green fingers to good use. The air is heavy with the sweet scent of roses.
This is where Ludwig Taschner has been at his post for the past 50 years – among the roses, with his pruning shears in his bag.
Ludwig grew up in the village of Osterwieck in the former East Germany, where his parents had a nursery. In 1960 he fled to the West and worked at nurseries in West Germany, Switzerland and England. But South Africa was his destiny.
If you’re a nurseryman or you’re interested in plants and gardens, South Africa is always beckoning on the horizon because of its incredible wealth of flora, Ludwig says. “I felt compelled to see it for myself.”
After spending two seasons working in England, where he began to specialise in cultivating roses, he arrived in Pretoria in October 1962. And he realised how big the market for roses was. “Everyone was crazy about them; almost every small town had its own rose show!”
Pretoria, with its blooming jacarandas and roses – and all the sunshine – soon
felt like home. He started to work at a nursery in Kameeldrift and grew roses the old-fashioned way: “You till, you plant the roses, and in winter you take them out. That was how the rose industry worked all over the world.”
But the development of garden centres brought a change to the industry and in the way people bought flowers and plants. Ludwig noticed these changes and he soon began searching for a piece of land where he could grow roses himself.
He started Ludwig’s Roses in Pretoria on 21 March 1971 and financed the business by starting the city’s first garden services company, which cared for 70 gardens in Waterkloof.
He gazes out at the sea of roses before us. “There was nothing here – the N1 highway hadn’t been built yet. I was one of the first to buy a plot here in Haakdoornlaagte.”
Within 10 years he had turned the South African rose industry on its head, and today Ludwig’s Roses is a worldrenowned rose nursery with eight branches across the country and more than 130 staff members. It boasts an online service, too, for ordering and delivery of roses. Ludwig’s Roses grows the largest variety of roses in the world.
“Roses are a little like fashion,” Ludwig says; “every year must see the launch of new varieties.” This year’s rose, for Ludwig, is the ‘Manuela Crabbia’ – which bears a beautiful large bloom in a range of pink shades on a long, strong, straight stem. “It’s a winner,” he says proudly.
Thanks to his son, Halmar, being involved in managing the business, Ludwig can focus once more on rose growing alone. Spending time among the roses is where he is at his happiest.
“Roses aren’t made of plastic – they change from day to day and climate to climate. Often I will see a rose and think: ‘Gosh, you’re beautiful!’”
The nursery celebrates its 50th anniversary over the weekend of 20–21 March 2021, on the farm north of Pretoria. All rose lovers are welcome to participate in their “Roses Galore” festivities.
Download the new Ludwig’s catalogue, featuring the splendid ‘Manuela Crabbia’ on the cover, from the website free of charge.