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Watch How the Kentucky Derby Rose Garland Is Made

Watch How the Kentucky Derby Rose Garland Is Made


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Grocery store in Louisville, Ky., pulls an all-nighter to make the winning rose garland — plus how to make your own

Ever wondered how — and who — makes the Kentucky Derby Rose Garland, gifted to the winning team? Turns out, the famous rose garland is made by a Kroger grocery store in Louisville, Ky.

You can watch the rose garland be made by the grocery-store florists this "Derby Eve" at the Louisville location. Nearly 400 "Freedom" roses are sewn into the green satin backing to create the final product, which is then taken (by police escort) to the Clubhouse Gardens. The red rose has been the official flower of the Kentucky Derby since 1904.

Kroger, the world's largest florist, has been supplying the Rose Garland for 26 years. Said Carol Belser, manager of the Kroger Floral Center in Louisville to WAVE, "Kroger is very proud that Churchill Downs entrusts this important part of the Derby tradition to our team of floral designers... It's a thrill to see their craftsmanship televised around the world on Derby Day."

Derby Day party planners, incorporate your own rose garland into your table centerpieces: We like Hostess with the Mostest's and Style Me Pretty's take on the rose garland, whether reds based with a black background, or blended in with lighter reds and pinks for a softer touch. Set them out among your Kentucky Derby cocktails and enjoy!


History of the Roses: The Official Flower of the Kentucky Derby

The iconic garland of roses didn’t always appear as a coronation of red over the Kentucky Derby winner’s shoulders. In fact, the first 21 Kentucky Derby winners didn’t even have a blanket of flowers. It wasn’t until 1896 with Ben Brush when the first garland of roses was presented, and it was a garland of pink and white roses.

The tradition of the roses started with the flowers being given to women at Derby parties considered to be a fashionable place to be. The popularity grew so much that Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, who led the establishment of Churchill Down, named the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Between the fashion and classy horses that attracted people to celebrate the tradition on the Kentucky Derby, the rose kept gaining favor and gave the race its well-known nickname – the Run for the Roses. Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, came up with the phrase in 1925 and it still sticks today. Corum later became president of the track in 1949.

The garland of roses as we know it today was first presented in 1932 to Burgoo King. It consists of over 400 red roses with a crown on top featuring more roses, fern leaves, and red ribbon. The crown represents the winning horse’s heart and achievement in battling their way to victory.

The Kroger Company began making the garland of roses in 1987. They make it in store every year and the public is welcome to come out and watch the process. If you think 400 roses sounds like a lot, try sorting through over 7,000 roses. The Kroger florists are in charge of picking out the best roses for the garland, but they also have to take the type of rose into consideration. They have switched from the Freedom rose to the Classy rose, and started using the Freedom rose in 2011 when they could not get the quantity they needed of the other types.

Making the garland of roses starts with a green satin backing. On one end is the seal of the Commonwealth. Churchill Down’s twin spires are displayed on the other end with the number of the year’s Kentucky Derby. The roses are inserted into water valves and sewn into the backing around the stem. Needle and thread used to go through the roses themselves, but that method brought damage to the flowers. The whole process takes over seven hours to complete.

After the roses and other materials are completely put together, the weight of the garland is 40 pounds, and sometimes a couple pounds more. On top of all the other details, the Kroger florists also have to keep watch over the weight of the garland while it is in the making. Not all horses react well to foreign objects, especially objects that heavy being draped over their shoulders. If they do mind the garland, they typically adjust quickly and march around with it like the proud horse they are.

The garland of roses began getting freeze-dried for preservation in 1996 so that owners could put the garland on display. Before that, they received a silk replica. A silver dipped rose from 1982 winner Gato Del Sol’s garland can be seen at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s rose garland will be made the night of May 6 at the Middletown Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky.


History of the Roses: The Official Flower of the Kentucky Derby

The iconic garland of roses didn’t always appear as a coronation of red over the Kentucky Derby winner’s shoulders. In fact, the first 21 Kentucky Derby winners didn’t even have a blanket of flowers. It wasn’t until 1896 with Ben Brush when the first garland of roses was presented, and it was a garland of pink and white roses.

The tradition of the roses started with the flowers being given to women at Derby parties considered to be a fashionable place to be. The popularity grew so much that Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, who led the establishment of Churchill Down, named the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Between the fashion and classy horses that attracted people to celebrate the tradition on the Kentucky Derby, the rose kept gaining favor and gave the race its well-known nickname – the Run for the Roses. Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, came up with the phrase in 1925 and it still sticks today. Corum later became president of the track in 1949.

The garland of roses as we know it today was first presented in 1932 to Burgoo King. It consists of over 400 red roses with a crown on top featuring more roses, fern leaves, and red ribbon. The crown represents the winning horse’s heart and achievement in battling their way to victory.

The Kroger Company began making the garland of roses in 1987. They make it in store every year and the public is welcome to come out and watch the process. If you think 400 roses sounds like a lot, try sorting through over 7,000 roses. The Kroger florists are in charge of picking out the best roses for the garland, but they also have to take the type of rose into consideration. They have switched from the Freedom rose to the Classy rose, and started using the Freedom rose in 2011 when they could not get the quantity they needed of the other types.

Making the garland of roses starts with a green satin backing. On one end is the seal of the Commonwealth. Churchill Down’s twin spires are displayed on the other end with the number of the year’s Kentucky Derby. The roses are inserted into water valves and sewn into the backing around the stem. Needle and thread used to go through the roses themselves, but that method brought damage to the flowers. The whole process takes over seven hours to complete.

After the roses and other materials are completely put together, the weight of the garland is 40 pounds, and sometimes a couple pounds more. On top of all the other details, the Kroger florists also have to keep watch over the weight of the garland while it is in the making. Not all horses react well to foreign objects, especially objects that heavy being draped over their shoulders. If they do mind the garland, they typically adjust quickly and march around with it like the proud horse they are.

The garland of roses began getting freeze-dried for preservation in 1996 so that owners could put the garland on display. Before that, they received a silk replica. A silver dipped rose from 1982 winner Gato Del Sol’s garland can be seen at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s rose garland will be made the night of May 6 at the Middletown Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky.


History of the Roses: The Official Flower of the Kentucky Derby

The iconic garland of roses didn’t always appear as a coronation of red over the Kentucky Derby winner’s shoulders. In fact, the first 21 Kentucky Derby winners didn’t even have a blanket of flowers. It wasn’t until 1896 with Ben Brush when the first garland of roses was presented, and it was a garland of pink and white roses.

The tradition of the roses started with the flowers being given to women at Derby parties considered to be a fashionable place to be. The popularity grew so much that Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, who led the establishment of Churchill Down, named the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Between the fashion and classy horses that attracted people to celebrate the tradition on the Kentucky Derby, the rose kept gaining favor and gave the race its well-known nickname – the Run for the Roses. Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, came up with the phrase in 1925 and it still sticks today. Corum later became president of the track in 1949.

The garland of roses as we know it today was first presented in 1932 to Burgoo King. It consists of over 400 red roses with a crown on top featuring more roses, fern leaves, and red ribbon. The crown represents the winning horse’s heart and achievement in battling their way to victory.

The Kroger Company began making the garland of roses in 1987. They make it in store every year and the public is welcome to come out and watch the process. If you think 400 roses sounds like a lot, try sorting through over 7,000 roses. The Kroger florists are in charge of picking out the best roses for the garland, but they also have to take the type of rose into consideration. They have switched from the Freedom rose to the Classy rose, and started using the Freedom rose in 2011 when they could not get the quantity they needed of the other types.

Making the garland of roses starts with a green satin backing. On one end is the seal of the Commonwealth. Churchill Down’s twin spires are displayed on the other end with the number of the year’s Kentucky Derby. The roses are inserted into water valves and sewn into the backing around the stem. Needle and thread used to go through the roses themselves, but that method brought damage to the flowers. The whole process takes over seven hours to complete.

After the roses and other materials are completely put together, the weight of the garland is 40 pounds, and sometimes a couple pounds more. On top of all the other details, the Kroger florists also have to keep watch over the weight of the garland while it is in the making. Not all horses react well to foreign objects, especially objects that heavy being draped over their shoulders. If they do mind the garland, they typically adjust quickly and march around with it like the proud horse they are.

The garland of roses began getting freeze-dried for preservation in 1996 so that owners could put the garland on display. Before that, they received a silk replica. A silver dipped rose from 1982 winner Gato Del Sol’s garland can be seen at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s rose garland will be made the night of May 6 at the Middletown Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky.


History of the Roses: The Official Flower of the Kentucky Derby

The iconic garland of roses didn’t always appear as a coronation of red over the Kentucky Derby winner’s shoulders. In fact, the first 21 Kentucky Derby winners didn’t even have a blanket of flowers. It wasn’t until 1896 with Ben Brush when the first garland of roses was presented, and it was a garland of pink and white roses.

The tradition of the roses started with the flowers being given to women at Derby parties considered to be a fashionable place to be. The popularity grew so much that Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, who led the establishment of Churchill Down, named the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Between the fashion and classy horses that attracted people to celebrate the tradition on the Kentucky Derby, the rose kept gaining favor and gave the race its well-known nickname – the Run for the Roses. Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, came up with the phrase in 1925 and it still sticks today. Corum later became president of the track in 1949.

The garland of roses as we know it today was first presented in 1932 to Burgoo King. It consists of over 400 red roses with a crown on top featuring more roses, fern leaves, and red ribbon. The crown represents the winning horse’s heart and achievement in battling their way to victory.

The Kroger Company began making the garland of roses in 1987. They make it in store every year and the public is welcome to come out and watch the process. If you think 400 roses sounds like a lot, try sorting through over 7,000 roses. The Kroger florists are in charge of picking out the best roses for the garland, but they also have to take the type of rose into consideration. They have switched from the Freedom rose to the Classy rose, and started using the Freedom rose in 2011 when they could not get the quantity they needed of the other types.

Making the garland of roses starts with a green satin backing. On one end is the seal of the Commonwealth. Churchill Down’s twin spires are displayed on the other end with the number of the year’s Kentucky Derby. The roses are inserted into water valves and sewn into the backing around the stem. Needle and thread used to go through the roses themselves, but that method brought damage to the flowers. The whole process takes over seven hours to complete.

After the roses and other materials are completely put together, the weight of the garland is 40 pounds, and sometimes a couple pounds more. On top of all the other details, the Kroger florists also have to keep watch over the weight of the garland while it is in the making. Not all horses react well to foreign objects, especially objects that heavy being draped over their shoulders. If they do mind the garland, they typically adjust quickly and march around with it like the proud horse they are.

The garland of roses began getting freeze-dried for preservation in 1996 so that owners could put the garland on display. Before that, they received a silk replica. A silver dipped rose from 1982 winner Gato Del Sol’s garland can be seen at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s rose garland will be made the night of May 6 at the Middletown Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky.


History of the Roses: The Official Flower of the Kentucky Derby

The iconic garland of roses didn’t always appear as a coronation of red over the Kentucky Derby winner’s shoulders. In fact, the first 21 Kentucky Derby winners didn’t even have a blanket of flowers. It wasn’t until 1896 with Ben Brush when the first garland of roses was presented, and it was a garland of pink and white roses.

The tradition of the roses started with the flowers being given to women at Derby parties considered to be a fashionable place to be. The popularity grew so much that Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, who led the establishment of Churchill Down, named the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Between the fashion and classy horses that attracted people to celebrate the tradition on the Kentucky Derby, the rose kept gaining favor and gave the race its well-known nickname – the Run for the Roses. Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, came up with the phrase in 1925 and it still sticks today. Corum later became president of the track in 1949.

The garland of roses as we know it today was first presented in 1932 to Burgoo King. It consists of over 400 red roses with a crown on top featuring more roses, fern leaves, and red ribbon. The crown represents the winning horse’s heart and achievement in battling their way to victory.

The Kroger Company began making the garland of roses in 1987. They make it in store every year and the public is welcome to come out and watch the process. If you think 400 roses sounds like a lot, try sorting through over 7,000 roses. The Kroger florists are in charge of picking out the best roses for the garland, but they also have to take the type of rose into consideration. They have switched from the Freedom rose to the Classy rose, and started using the Freedom rose in 2011 when they could not get the quantity they needed of the other types.

Making the garland of roses starts with a green satin backing. On one end is the seal of the Commonwealth. Churchill Down’s twin spires are displayed on the other end with the number of the year’s Kentucky Derby. The roses are inserted into water valves and sewn into the backing around the stem. Needle and thread used to go through the roses themselves, but that method brought damage to the flowers. The whole process takes over seven hours to complete.

After the roses and other materials are completely put together, the weight of the garland is 40 pounds, and sometimes a couple pounds more. On top of all the other details, the Kroger florists also have to keep watch over the weight of the garland while it is in the making. Not all horses react well to foreign objects, especially objects that heavy being draped over their shoulders. If they do mind the garland, they typically adjust quickly and march around with it like the proud horse they are.

The garland of roses began getting freeze-dried for preservation in 1996 so that owners could put the garland on display. Before that, they received a silk replica. A silver dipped rose from 1982 winner Gato Del Sol’s garland can be seen at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s rose garland will be made the night of May 6 at the Middletown Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky.


History of the Roses: The Official Flower of the Kentucky Derby

The iconic garland of roses didn’t always appear as a coronation of red over the Kentucky Derby winner’s shoulders. In fact, the first 21 Kentucky Derby winners didn’t even have a blanket of flowers. It wasn’t until 1896 with Ben Brush when the first garland of roses was presented, and it was a garland of pink and white roses.

The tradition of the roses started with the flowers being given to women at Derby parties considered to be a fashionable place to be. The popularity grew so much that Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, who led the establishment of Churchill Down, named the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Between the fashion and classy horses that attracted people to celebrate the tradition on the Kentucky Derby, the rose kept gaining favor and gave the race its well-known nickname – the Run for the Roses. Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, came up with the phrase in 1925 and it still sticks today. Corum later became president of the track in 1949.

The garland of roses as we know it today was first presented in 1932 to Burgoo King. It consists of over 400 red roses with a crown on top featuring more roses, fern leaves, and red ribbon. The crown represents the winning horse’s heart and achievement in battling their way to victory.

The Kroger Company began making the garland of roses in 1987. They make it in store every year and the public is welcome to come out and watch the process. If you think 400 roses sounds like a lot, try sorting through over 7,000 roses. The Kroger florists are in charge of picking out the best roses for the garland, but they also have to take the type of rose into consideration. They have switched from the Freedom rose to the Classy rose, and started using the Freedom rose in 2011 when they could not get the quantity they needed of the other types.

Making the garland of roses starts with a green satin backing. On one end is the seal of the Commonwealth. Churchill Down’s twin spires are displayed on the other end with the number of the year’s Kentucky Derby. The roses are inserted into water valves and sewn into the backing around the stem. Needle and thread used to go through the roses themselves, but that method brought damage to the flowers. The whole process takes over seven hours to complete.

After the roses and other materials are completely put together, the weight of the garland is 40 pounds, and sometimes a couple pounds more. On top of all the other details, the Kroger florists also have to keep watch over the weight of the garland while it is in the making. Not all horses react well to foreign objects, especially objects that heavy being draped over their shoulders. If they do mind the garland, they typically adjust quickly and march around with it like the proud horse they are.

The garland of roses began getting freeze-dried for preservation in 1996 so that owners could put the garland on display. Before that, they received a silk replica. A silver dipped rose from 1982 winner Gato Del Sol’s garland can be seen at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s rose garland will be made the night of May 6 at the Middletown Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky.


History of the Roses: The Official Flower of the Kentucky Derby

The iconic garland of roses didn’t always appear as a coronation of red over the Kentucky Derby winner’s shoulders. In fact, the first 21 Kentucky Derby winners didn’t even have a blanket of flowers. It wasn’t until 1896 with Ben Brush when the first garland of roses was presented, and it was a garland of pink and white roses.

The tradition of the roses started with the flowers being given to women at Derby parties considered to be a fashionable place to be. The popularity grew so much that Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, who led the establishment of Churchill Down, named the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Between the fashion and classy horses that attracted people to celebrate the tradition on the Kentucky Derby, the rose kept gaining favor and gave the race its well-known nickname – the Run for the Roses. Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, came up with the phrase in 1925 and it still sticks today. Corum later became president of the track in 1949.

The garland of roses as we know it today was first presented in 1932 to Burgoo King. It consists of over 400 red roses with a crown on top featuring more roses, fern leaves, and red ribbon. The crown represents the winning horse’s heart and achievement in battling their way to victory.

The Kroger Company began making the garland of roses in 1987. They make it in store every year and the public is welcome to come out and watch the process. If you think 400 roses sounds like a lot, try sorting through over 7,000 roses. The Kroger florists are in charge of picking out the best roses for the garland, but they also have to take the type of rose into consideration. They have switched from the Freedom rose to the Classy rose, and started using the Freedom rose in 2011 when they could not get the quantity they needed of the other types.

Making the garland of roses starts with a green satin backing. On one end is the seal of the Commonwealth. Churchill Down’s twin spires are displayed on the other end with the number of the year’s Kentucky Derby. The roses are inserted into water valves and sewn into the backing around the stem. Needle and thread used to go through the roses themselves, but that method brought damage to the flowers. The whole process takes over seven hours to complete.

After the roses and other materials are completely put together, the weight of the garland is 40 pounds, and sometimes a couple pounds more. On top of all the other details, the Kroger florists also have to keep watch over the weight of the garland while it is in the making. Not all horses react well to foreign objects, especially objects that heavy being draped over their shoulders. If they do mind the garland, they typically adjust quickly and march around with it like the proud horse they are.

The garland of roses began getting freeze-dried for preservation in 1996 so that owners could put the garland on display. Before that, they received a silk replica. A silver dipped rose from 1982 winner Gato Del Sol’s garland can be seen at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s rose garland will be made the night of May 6 at the Middletown Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky.


History of the Roses: The Official Flower of the Kentucky Derby

The iconic garland of roses didn’t always appear as a coronation of red over the Kentucky Derby winner’s shoulders. In fact, the first 21 Kentucky Derby winners didn’t even have a blanket of flowers. It wasn’t until 1896 with Ben Brush when the first garland of roses was presented, and it was a garland of pink and white roses.

The tradition of the roses started with the flowers being given to women at Derby parties considered to be a fashionable place to be. The popularity grew so much that Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, who led the establishment of Churchill Down, named the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Between the fashion and classy horses that attracted people to celebrate the tradition on the Kentucky Derby, the rose kept gaining favor and gave the race its well-known nickname – the Run for the Roses. Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, came up with the phrase in 1925 and it still sticks today. Corum later became president of the track in 1949.

The garland of roses as we know it today was first presented in 1932 to Burgoo King. It consists of over 400 red roses with a crown on top featuring more roses, fern leaves, and red ribbon. The crown represents the winning horse’s heart and achievement in battling their way to victory.

The Kroger Company began making the garland of roses in 1987. They make it in store every year and the public is welcome to come out and watch the process. If you think 400 roses sounds like a lot, try sorting through over 7,000 roses. The Kroger florists are in charge of picking out the best roses for the garland, but they also have to take the type of rose into consideration. They have switched from the Freedom rose to the Classy rose, and started using the Freedom rose in 2011 when they could not get the quantity they needed of the other types.

Making the garland of roses starts with a green satin backing. On one end is the seal of the Commonwealth. Churchill Down’s twin spires are displayed on the other end with the number of the year’s Kentucky Derby. The roses are inserted into water valves and sewn into the backing around the stem. Needle and thread used to go through the roses themselves, but that method brought damage to the flowers. The whole process takes over seven hours to complete.

After the roses and other materials are completely put together, the weight of the garland is 40 pounds, and sometimes a couple pounds more. On top of all the other details, the Kroger florists also have to keep watch over the weight of the garland while it is in the making. Not all horses react well to foreign objects, especially objects that heavy being draped over their shoulders. If they do mind the garland, they typically adjust quickly and march around with it like the proud horse they are.

The garland of roses began getting freeze-dried for preservation in 1996 so that owners could put the garland on display. Before that, they received a silk replica. A silver dipped rose from 1982 winner Gato Del Sol’s garland can be seen at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s rose garland will be made the night of May 6 at the Middletown Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky.


History of the Roses: The Official Flower of the Kentucky Derby

The iconic garland of roses didn’t always appear as a coronation of red over the Kentucky Derby winner’s shoulders. In fact, the first 21 Kentucky Derby winners didn’t even have a blanket of flowers. It wasn’t until 1896 with Ben Brush when the first garland of roses was presented, and it was a garland of pink and white roses.

The tradition of the roses started with the flowers being given to women at Derby parties considered to be a fashionable place to be. The popularity grew so much that Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, who led the establishment of Churchill Down, named the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Between the fashion and classy horses that attracted people to celebrate the tradition on the Kentucky Derby, the rose kept gaining favor and gave the race its well-known nickname – the Run for the Roses. Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, came up with the phrase in 1925 and it still sticks today. Corum later became president of the track in 1949.

The garland of roses as we know it today was first presented in 1932 to Burgoo King. It consists of over 400 red roses with a crown on top featuring more roses, fern leaves, and red ribbon. The crown represents the winning horse’s heart and achievement in battling their way to victory.

The Kroger Company began making the garland of roses in 1987. They make it in store every year and the public is welcome to come out and watch the process. If you think 400 roses sounds like a lot, try sorting through over 7,000 roses. The Kroger florists are in charge of picking out the best roses for the garland, but they also have to take the type of rose into consideration. They have switched from the Freedom rose to the Classy rose, and started using the Freedom rose in 2011 when they could not get the quantity they needed of the other types.

Making the garland of roses starts with a green satin backing. On one end is the seal of the Commonwealth. Churchill Down’s twin spires are displayed on the other end with the number of the year’s Kentucky Derby. The roses are inserted into water valves and sewn into the backing around the stem. Needle and thread used to go through the roses themselves, but that method brought damage to the flowers. The whole process takes over seven hours to complete.

After the roses and other materials are completely put together, the weight of the garland is 40 pounds, and sometimes a couple pounds more. On top of all the other details, the Kroger florists also have to keep watch over the weight of the garland while it is in the making. Not all horses react well to foreign objects, especially objects that heavy being draped over their shoulders. If they do mind the garland, they typically adjust quickly and march around with it like the proud horse they are.

The garland of roses began getting freeze-dried for preservation in 1996 so that owners could put the garland on display. Before that, they received a silk replica. A silver dipped rose from 1982 winner Gato Del Sol’s garland can be seen at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s rose garland will be made the night of May 6 at the Middletown Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky.


History of the Roses: The Official Flower of the Kentucky Derby

The iconic garland of roses didn’t always appear as a coronation of red over the Kentucky Derby winner’s shoulders. In fact, the first 21 Kentucky Derby winners didn’t even have a blanket of flowers. It wasn’t until 1896 with Ben Brush when the first garland of roses was presented, and it was a garland of pink and white roses.

The tradition of the roses started with the flowers being given to women at Derby parties considered to be a fashionable place to be. The popularity grew so much that Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, who led the establishment of Churchill Down, named the red rose the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Between the fashion and classy horses that attracted people to celebrate the tradition on the Kentucky Derby, the rose kept gaining favor and gave the race its well-known nickname – the Run for the Roses. Bill Corum, a New York sports columnist, came up with the phrase in 1925 and it still sticks today. Corum later became president of the track in 1949.

The garland of roses as we know it today was first presented in 1932 to Burgoo King. It consists of over 400 red roses with a crown on top featuring more roses, fern leaves, and red ribbon. The crown represents the winning horse’s heart and achievement in battling their way to victory.

The Kroger Company began making the garland of roses in 1987. They make it in store every year and the public is welcome to come out and watch the process. If you think 400 roses sounds like a lot, try sorting through over 7,000 roses. The Kroger florists are in charge of picking out the best roses for the garland, but they also have to take the type of rose into consideration. They have switched from the Freedom rose to the Classy rose, and started using the Freedom rose in 2011 when they could not get the quantity they needed of the other types.

Making the garland of roses starts with a green satin backing. On one end is the seal of the Commonwealth. Churchill Down’s twin spires are displayed on the other end with the number of the year’s Kentucky Derby. The roses are inserted into water valves and sewn into the backing around the stem. Needle and thread used to go through the roses themselves, but that method brought damage to the flowers. The whole process takes over seven hours to complete.

After the roses and other materials are completely put together, the weight of the garland is 40 pounds, and sometimes a couple pounds more. On top of all the other details, the Kroger florists also have to keep watch over the weight of the garland while it is in the making. Not all horses react well to foreign objects, especially objects that heavy being draped over their shoulders. If they do mind the garland, they typically adjust quickly and march around with it like the proud horse they are.

The garland of roses began getting freeze-dried for preservation in 1996 so that owners could put the garland on display. Before that, they received a silk replica. A silver dipped rose from 1982 winner Gato Del Sol’s garland can be seen at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s rose garland will be made the night of May 6 at the Middletown Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky.


Watch the video: Traditions - The Garland of Roses (June 2022).