Dreaming of Proteas
Updated: May 20
A trip to the Netherlands turned out to be an aha moment for Eli Perez who runs Rosamina, an established Colombian flower company known for roses.
This was 12 years ago when he and his father saw a big, luscious protea flower that mesmerized Eli. So mesmerized was he that he suggested - or rather insisted - that the family farm should go into the protea business.
“I had never seen the flower before,” recalls Eli Perez, laughing at the folly of this idea. “We consulted agronomists, floral professionals and everyone thought we were crazy and it was never going to work.”
Because proteas are not native to Colombia which is near the equator, there were several challenges.
“The altitude as well as we would be producing them 52 weeks a year and proteas are seasonal in California and elsewhere,” he recalls. “They hadn’t also acclimated to our region.”
But Perez was undaunted. He wanted to be the first and had this recurring vision that if he persevered, despite the detours and challenges, he would become the biggest grower of proteas in the region.
Sure enough, that now is true after an 8 year-commitment and with the last four years far more smooth sailing than the earlier bumpier years.
Rosamina now produces 9 varieties of pin cushions, 7 proteas and 10 kinds of leucadendron, also known as the sunset flower.
Asking Perez his favorite flowers is like asking him to choose his preferred children. Each of these flowers have been so passionately cultivated.
But he has a deep affection for a pin cushion named “Flame Giant” “because of the size and the shape” as well as its spidery petals looking as though dipped at the tips in yellow paint. The other is a protea called the "Pink King” for its pale pastel color.
With proteas being one of the oldest blossoms on earth, and getting its name from Proteus, the shape-shifting son of Poseidon, these flowers have the opportunity for many more varieties and Perez is busy producing the most beautiful.
However, with a daughter named Dahlia, now also in the business, who knows, she may have a new flower to bring into the family empire one day in the future. But for now, he and his family are enjoying cultivating proteas and the fruits of their well-earned success.
- Jill Brooke
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