Petal Pusher

Posted online: March 2015


By Christine Lennon, photographs by Coral Von Zumwalt

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The ‘Crown Princess Margareta’ English rose.

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Danielle Hahn, the current Great Rosarian of the World.

Danielle and Bill Hahn’s Rose Story Farm’s buds and blossoms—as well as their beloved, organic Carpinteria farm’s produce—have been local treasures for more than 25 years. The first time Danielle (a Montecito native and Stanford graduate) was featured in this magazine, her sons were kids playing on the hillside. “I’m looking at the picture right now, on my wall, and my older son who’s in his 20s now must be about 11 in this photo,” she says. “Our boys still come here to explore, to check out the turtles in the pond, and play around outside—and they’re grown.”

Now, it seems, Hahn’s work has become a global treasure. Last spring, she was honored with the prestigious Great Rosarian of the World Award in one ceremony at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and another closer to home at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Garden. “I am only the third woman to receive the award and the fifth American, so it’s quite and honor, and quite a big deal for me,” she says. “I still haven’t completely recovered.”

As pioneers in the world of hand-cut, pesticide-free commercial flower growers, the Hahns were early adapters on the sustainable gardening movement. With no formal training aside from Bill’s childhood experiences on a potato farm in Washington State, they started as passionate amateurs and slowly built their business from 1,000 bushes on a small avocado and lemon farm to the roughly 30,000 plant operation it is today. Hahn, in her typically modest way, gives most of the credit for their success to the microclimate that surrounds their property. “We’re in this little canyon, where centuries worth of soil has washed down. We have 18 feet of pure, dark loamy soil. The breezes through the canyon are critical because roses need the circulation, and we’re high enough to avoid coastal fog so we don’t get many disease problems,” she says. “The drought hasn’t caused much of an issue because roses can get by on very little water. We do have some issues with mildew and gophers. The gophers are really the bane of my existence,” she says. “But other than that, I’m not sure there are any downsides to being here and doing what we’re doing.”

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The formal garden of Rose Story Farm.

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