Kroger Runs for the Roses at the Kentucky Derby

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Kroger Runs for the Roses at the Kentucky Derby

For the 23rd year, a contingent of the Kroger Co.’s master floral designers will craft the Kentucky Derby’s famous “Garland of Roses” bestowed upon the winning thoroughbred.

“As the world’s largest florist, Kroger floral designers are in the business of helping customers celebrate with flowers,” said Carol Belser, Kroger master florist. “Whether we’re creating small bouquets for Mother’s Day or large displays for the Kentucky Derby, we’re always honored to have a part in making our customers’ celebrations beautiful.”

Belser explains that it will take nearly one dozen master florists about seven hours to create the Garland of Roses, which will measure 122 inches long by 22 inches wide, weigh approximately 40 pounds, and contain more than 400 roses. To complete the design, a crown of roses, greenery and ribbons that represent each thoroughbred running in the race will be placed at the exact center of the garland.

The garland is made entirely of Freedom roses, a variety that was selected for its rich red color, bloom size, stem length and foliage. Dozens of floral employees are already at work sorting through thousands of roses to select only the best for presentation.

In addition to the Garland of Roses, Kroger floral designers will create the “Jockey's Bouquet” — an impressive bouquet of 60 long-stemmed red roses — and the urns that decorate the Winner’s Circle and red-carpet celebrity entrance.

The Garland of Roses has been a tradition of the Kentucky Derby since 1932, when the first garland was commissioned by Samuel Culberston, then an official at Churchill Downs. Prior to that time, a horseshoe-shaped wreath of roses was presented to the Derby winner.

Cincinnati-based Kroger is also gearing up for robust Mother’s Day floral sales, for which it is promoting a variety of specially themed bouquets available in stores nationwide, online at, and by phone at 1-800-900-6575. Mother’s Day this year is May 9.

Kroger operates 2,468 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names, including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.