Updated: Nov 6
Beatrice Barni: an Italian flower grower who looks to an increasingly sustainable future but linked to a great tradition of excellence.
When a legacy meets family passion and openness for the future, something special was born. Beatrice Barni represents the most recent generation of entrepreneurs of a historical floriculture and ornamental plant company located in one of the most important Italian nursery districts, Pistoia (Tuscany) and the neighbouring municipalities. The tradition of growing plants to embellish the gardens of Florentine mansions comes from Vittorio Tommaso Barni who started his business in 1882 to develop it through his descendants with a special focus on rose varieties. In the 1930’s the interest for the rose increased even more and Vittorio deepened his botanical knowledge thanks to his friend, Domenico Aicardi, great researcher and hybridizer from Sanremo, the centre of the floricultural production set in the Western Ligurian Riviera, at that time. Soon after, a new synergy was born between Barni’s and Meilland’s, a paramount French rose family-run producer, giving life to the Universal Rose Selection, an organisation aimed at spreading love for roses, worldwide.
Despite the Second World War standby, the project was extremely successful and the Barni farm could develop localised productions in Imperia, Pisa, Grosseto and Pistoia territories. In late 1960’s, Barni’s launched a unique rose hybridization program that led them to win prestigious awards, at national and international level. Many of the ‘made in Barni’ roses pay tribute to the most popular meaningful figures on the international scene. At the end of the 90s, the youngest heirs of this long-lasting family-tree are engaged in carrying on their reputation. Vittorio is involved in the customer management while Beatrice is concentrated on research and breeding. About three hundred different types of roses are currently grown by the Barni’s floriculture company. But this maison of exclusive roses is also projected towards an increasingly sustainable future that is already largely implemented through innovation and new technology.
MONACŒCOART® had the pleasure to interview Beatrice Barni (B.B.) to better understand the added value of this great tradition behind and what future developments it may generate.
MONACŒCOART®: Beatrice Barni, where does your family’s passion for roses come from? In your opinion, why have roses been so appreciated over the centuries?
Beatrice Barni: Our nursery is still family run: my cousin Vittorio and I represent the fourth generation of gardeners. The focus on Roses results from our grandfather, Vittorio Barni, who immediately after the Second World War made contact with the largest hybridizers in Europe, notably in France, where there has always been a strong tradition of rose cultivation. Gradually, the producing process became predominant, thanks also to the speed of rose plant material in propagating.
The Rose has always been greatly admired because it offers a wide variety of bearing (e.g.: bush, climbing, shrub, soil cover, etc.), besides multiple corolla shapes (e.g.: simple, semi-double, double flowers, etc.) and a kaleidoscopic palette of colours (e.g.: monochromatic, shaded, streaked, etc.). Thus, it can be used in many contexts and it is well adapted to pot cultivation.
MONACŒCOART®: What do you love most about the work you do, heir to more than a century of activity?
Beatrice Barni: Our job is definitely seasonal, therefore it always varies depending on the season. My task, designing new varieties through hybridization, is very exciting and full of surprises. The corporate primary objective is the customer satisfaction, so I am firmly committed to providing a dedicated buyers’ care, as well as a precise and diligent after-sales service.
MONACŒCOART®: To which ‘made in Barni’ hybrid are you attached most and why?
Beatrice Barni: One of our most successful hybrids is the Sans Souci rose, which offers cupped corollas of a delicate pink ivory colour, giving an elegant and refined touch. This variety was designed by my grandmother, Anna Medici, and put on the market in 1995, being awarded as best hybrid at New Roses Competitions.
MONACŒCOART®: Your company is pursuing a sustainable policy in the production phase. How can you be sustainable in the professional cultivation of roses?
Beatrice Barni: The attention to the environmental preservation is a must in our production. Our nurseries are equipped with important photovoltaic plants while the areas for cultivation of potted plants are designed to recover irrigation water, something I care about, given the danger of drought in recent years.
MONACŒCOART®: Do you believe that combining the values of sustainability with the cultivation of ornamental plants for commercial use is a winning choice? Can environmentally friendly products be used to make rose growth healthy and productive?
Beatrice Barni: We regularly use a wide range of organic products, recently entered the market, based on copper and sulfur for fungal diseases. We also have good results with Neem oil, which acts as leaf invigorating, limiting the attacks of aphids and small leaf-miner larvae.
MONACŒCOART®: Do you join projects that promote sustainable nurseries? What actions do you take in terms of internal and external communication? Do customers pay attention to the environmental aspects of your rose production?
Beatrice Barni: The whole Pistoia floral nursery sector is committed to environmental sustainability and we always participate in projects that boost it. We give preference to low environmental impact materials, like coconut fibre that replaced peat. We have also included a mulching system able to reduce water requirements. Both employees and customers are informed through notes and advertising material. Generally speaking, customers pay an increasing attention to these topics.
MONACŒCOART®: Scientific research has long focused on the selection of the strongest seeds, resistant and nutritious (with reference to edible plants), can you be sustainable in the phase of roses hybridization? Do you consider this is important to respect the 'natural rhythms' in this delicate phase? Can you give us an example?
Beatrice Barni: Obtaining a new variety of roses is a very long process, taking seven to ten years of trials and selections, held first in greenhouses and then in test fields. During this long journey, major characteristics are analyzed, starting from rose resistance to diseases. If we notice that a hybrid undergoes attacks of fungi, despite its beauty, it is automatically discarded from the marketing schedule. As an example, once we had to stop a variety one year before the planned release because there was a particularly wet spring that decreased the performance of that rose species. ***
By Maurice Abbati
Springer International Publishing