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More than 100 years of rose breeding at Rosen Tantau
For more than 100 years the garden rose breeding has been the core business of Rosen Tantau. During all that time the company has specialized on different types of roses. 20 years ago, however, Rosen Tantau started to intensively diversifying his breeding lines to different types of rose classes.
1906 - foundation of Rosen Tantau by Mathias Tantau senior.
Mathias Tantau senior was born on September 10th, 1882 in Uetersen. He started to work as a nursery gardener.From April 1898 until April 1901, he learnt in a local nursery close to Uetersen how to grow understocks of roses and fruit trees, forest trees and also roses.
After this training period he worked in the rose nursery of Peter Lambert in Trier, Germany for one year. At that time, this nursery was famous for its wide assortment of garden rose varieties. Later on Mathias Tantau went to France and Switzerland. He went on foot to Strasbourg where he worked for 15 Marks per month. After that he returned to Hamburg to work in a landscape nursery.
After his short working experiences in this nursery, Mathias Tantau came back to Uetersen to build up a typical North German nursery on his father’s land. The official date of the foundation was January 6th, 1906. From the beginning on he has grown understocks of roses and garden rose bushes as well as standards of roses together with his two brothers Joachim and Johann, who propagated under contract for Mathias Tantau senior. Until 1914, the propagation of garden rose bushes had increased up to 250.000. Furthermore the number of standards went up to a few thousands and the number of understocks up to 3 million. Then the First World War stopped the expansion of the nursery and the propagation figures decreased dramatically. That time they started with activities in rose breeding in order to balance the losses.
In 1919, Tantau introduced his first own two polyantha varieties called Stadtrat Main and Schöne von Holstein. Other very famous varieties followed: Rotelfe (1922), Johanneszauber (1926), Professor Gnau (1928), Johanna Tantau(1930), Johanna Röpcke (1931), Direktor Bentschop (1939), Karl Weinhausen and Käthe Duvigneau (1942),Tantaus Überraschung (1943), Märchenland and Fanal (1946). One of the very last breedings was the famous red polyantha Schweizer Gruß. All these introductions were at that time big steps forward to get rich and beautiful flowering remontant hybrids, especially polyantha and climbing varieties. These varieties were his biggest success.
Mathias Tantau senior bred one of the first worldwide successful cut rose varieties called Garnette. It was bred in the early Fourties and supplied to the cooperation partner Jackson & Perkins in the United States. After the Second World War, especially in the nineteen-sixties, several million plants of this variety were planted in the Netherlands for cut rose production. It was a floribunda in granat-red with an extremely vase-life and high productivity.
The most difficult moments in the development and growth of the business were, of course, the two world wars and the heavy hailstorm on August 10th, 1925 which destroyed all rose fields, understocks and greenhouses, not covered by any insurance.
1953 - the son continues his father’s success
After Mathias Tantau senior had died, his son Mathias Tantau junior took over the responsibility for the business and luckily he had enough knowledge of breeding and business administration to successfully continue his father’s work. Moreover Mathias Tantau junior changed the breeding strategy as he had foreseen the market´s need for larger flowered varieties with strong colors. Additionally these varieties should have good resistance against fungal diseases.
However, before he was able to introduce his own first worldwide successes, it was a great honour for him to introduce the hybrid tea Konrad Adenauer Rose, named after West-Germany´s first chancellor. Adenauer personally choose this variety, as he himself was a rose enthusiast. He looked for a large-flowered hybrid tea in red with strong fragrance, characteristics of this variety.
In 1960 one of the biggest successes, the salmon-orange hybrid tea Super Star ( Tropicana), was introduced. This variety was launched during an exhibition in Saarbrücken, Germany in the summer of 1960. While Mathias Tantau and his wife were doing the decoration of a big vase with 200 flowers of Super Star, they were suddenly surrounded by all journalists, as the bright, glossy color, combined with a strong fragrance, was a real sensation.
At first, this variety was introduced as a garden rose, later on it was used as a cut rose variety for outdoor and greenhouses. Until today, you can find this variety officially listed in the flower auction in Aalsmeer, Holland. Mathias Tantau junior then decided to breed large-flowered varities with strong fragrance and a good winter resistance. The result were famous varieties such as Duftwolke (Nuage Parfume, Fragrand Cloud) 1963, Mainzer Fastnacht (Sissi,Blue Moon) 1964, Pariser Charme 1965, Whisky (Whisky Mac) 1967, Erotika 1968, Herzog von Windsor (Duke of Windsor) 1969 and Landora 1970. Later varieties were Piroschka, Polarstern, Romanze and Lawinia.
In 1964, Rosen Tantau had grown to a company of some 2.500 m2 under glass with 70 employees doing a propagation of 3 million garden rose plants per year. Mathias Tantau junior won many international medals and trophies for his outstanding rose varieties whether it was for his fragrant garden rose varieties or for his first professional cut rose varieties.
1985 - start into a new era
In 1985, Mathias Tantau decided to hand over the company to his experienced employee Mr. Hans Jürgen Evers, whose father Hein Evers had worked fifty years for Rosen Tantau and had even become a friend of the Tantau family.
Hans Jürgen Evers had already been working in sales, selection and breeding with Mathias Tantau junior for many years. Therefore it was not too difficult for him to take over the new responsibility. Nonetheless, nature was the reason for a troublesome start. Because of very low temperatures during the winter of 1985.
The grafts in the fields were damaged and therefore he had to import millions of rose plants from England, even though the financial situation of the company was very narrow at that time.
However, despite these first very difficult years the company survived and recovered. In the following years, Rosen Tantau became one of the world´s most important rose breeding companies by diversifying its breeding program.
Diversification of Rosen Tantau´s breeding programs
- Breeding of garden rose varieties
Rich flowering and resistant garden rose varieties for different markets in all rose segments. Introduction of the worldwide successful varieties: Santana 1985, Bernstein Rose 1987, Schneewalzer 1987, Barkarole 1988,Mirato 1990, Satina 1992, Schneekönigin 1992, Sonnenschirm 1993, Goldjuwel 1993, Tea Time 1994,Black Magic 1995, Nostalgie 1995, Aspirin-Rose 1997, Austriana 1997, Augusta Luise 1999, Candlelight2001, Sweet Haze 2003, Pastella 2004.
- Outdoor cut roses: Hans Jürgen Evers was one of the first who has selected and bred specialized cut rose varieties to be cultivated outdoors worldwide. One of the first varieties for this purpose was Diadem with its different mutations, grown also as garden rose worldwide. Later varieties were Monica, Majolika, Softy and today outstanding varieties like Kessy, Mariatheresia or Nostalgie.
- Professional cut rose varieties: With the introduction of the varieties Garnette in 1945 and Osiana in 1989, Rosen Tantau’s great success story started. In the beginning, this specialized cut rose Osiana was introduced in the Netherlands and planted on many hectares. Later on, it went to South America and could be seen as the „door opener“ for Tantau’s breeding to this very important market for the cultivation of cut rose varieties. Osiana was in company with the dark red HT Barkarole, which was also offered as a garden rose plant. The extremely large-flowered red HT Raphaela, the yellow HT Skyline, Tantau’s Konfetti and later Noblesse with its mutations and Baronesse followedOsiana. Konfetti and Noblesse opened the doors of the greenhouses in Africa and are still available on the international flower markets.
Later even more varieties like Black Magic, Akito, Vendela were launched with great success. Boosted by the big increase of the worldwide cut flower consumption and the intensive global cooperation of more than thirty representatives there are roses growing in almost every country today.
It is Mr. Hans J. Evers’ special merit that he has foreseen the demand of the private consumer market to use large-flowered cut roses in strong colors for decorations and to breed such varieties to meet that demand. During the last ten years the company Rosen Tantau has become a global player in the field of roses, especially due to the diversification of its breeding programs.
Since Hans Jürgen Evers took over the responsibility, many new buildings have been set up or reconstructed on the historical ground of Rosen Tantau. Today Rosen Tantau produce besides 2,5 million garden rose bushes all kinds of rose plants for cut rose production. For this 50 ha of land and 2 ha of most modern greenhouse facilities are used. Here breeding and selection is done the year around. This is the meeting point of rose experts and own representatives of the whole world.
2000 - Rosen Tantau’s success story goes on . . .
Since the year 2000, the son of Hans J. Evers, Mr. Christian Evers, was leading the company together with his father. Being involved in breeding, Christian Evers introduced promising and worldwide famous cut rose varieties such as Cherry Brandy, Prestige and Sweet Haze.
Since Mr. Hans Jürgen Evers sadly passed away in August 2007 Christian Evers runs the company. Having participated in the rose breeding since many years he released already many brilliant varieties such as the fantastic garden rose varieties Artemis, Giardina or the multi awarded Stadt Rom.
With the breathtaking success of the cut rose variety Deep Water and the outdoor cut rose Piano he continues to grant Rosen Tantau’s position as the leading breeder of rose varieties for all markets.