You have to be very innovative and creative

The Breeding department is probably the most important department at Florensis as a breeder. Who is behind it, and what role do they play in Lavandula Lovers? We spoke to Harriette Aarden, Manager Breeding, who tells us the story.

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Harriette, how did you become Manager Breeding at Florensis?
I spent 25 years working in tomato breeding. There came a point when I thought: will I keep doing this for my entire life, or will I go in search of a new challenge? I have now been Manager Breeding at Florensis since 2016. It was a great step, but also something completely different for me. The world of vegetables that I came from only works with seed and no cuttings. So the world of cuttings was completely new for me. But fortunately we have lots of cutting specialists with plenty of expertise at Florensis.

What makes your work special?
Florensis is a very dynamic company. That calls for flexibility, so you have to be able to cope with that, but that is also what makes this work special. It's never boring. And that’s also to do with the market that we serve, of course. Breeding is a constant process. It’s a challenge to stay ahead in the ornamental horticulture sector. To do that you have to be very innovative and creative. And that’s what makes this work so special.

And what do you like best about your work?
I connect people, and I also make sure they stay connected and can work well together. As Manager Breeding, you’re a kind of linchpin in the web. Besides colleagues in your own department, you also deal with people in Supply, Trial Garden, Marketing and Corporate Product Management. You also work closely together with other companies such as Ball FloraPlant, which Florensis does a lot of work with. So it’s really varied.

I also really enjoy coaching and supporting my two breeding teams in Germany and the Netherlands. My aim is to help our breeders get the best out of themselves and to give them the opportunity to develop fantastic varieties.

“It’s a challenge to stay ahead in the ornamental horticulture sector. To do that you have to be very innovative and creative” - Harriette Aarden

Is that the aim of Breeding? 
The aim of Breeding is to develop new and unique varieties that meet the requirements of the market. We aim to have a complete and continuous pipeline with a constant supply of innovations. 

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Lavandula Lovers is our in-house breeding programme. How do you keep it sustainable? 
We do that in three areas: compactness, winter hardiness and a long flowering period. You need to use less plant growth regulators on compact plants. Good winter hardiness means that we can leave behind a smaller footprint. And by breeding for a long flowering season, you are supplying bees and other insects with food all summer long, which is good for the environment. 

How do you ensure reliability in your work? 
By meeting the criteria and constantly working on improvements so that we can offer our customers a couple of new varieties every year. Our reliability lies in the fact that we guarantee ongoing improvements as well as the constant supply of new varieties. For example, we actively select for good rooting capacity in our Lavandula cuttings. And the overall uniformity of the crop is of course a very important criterion for our customers. 

"Meeting the criteria and staying busy so that we can offer our customers a couple of new varieties every year" - Harriette Aarden

And how do you keep on innovating? 
Florensis is a member of GenNovation. The aim of GenNovation is to develop and implement new breeding technologies. This is also important for Lavandula Lovers.