Richard Cayeux, iris breeder, Cayeux Iris, France

What does your typical day involve? 

It depends on the season. Right now I have to finish the new catalogue and website. In the spring I think about new crosses, and I have to go into the fields to check how the varieties are growing. During flowering time we are very busy. Every day we have many visitors so I might be talking to them. My busiest time is May, when I am judging new seedlings. In June I usually spend the morning looking at orders. In the afternoon I go into the fields. From July to September we ship about 95 per cent of our stock. Then we transplant the plants in the fields.

What takes up most of your time?

Public relations. It takes a lot of time to target new customers outside of France and to send irises abroad.

Do you get out of the office enough?

I spend a lot of time in the office, perhaps too much. But during May I am always out in the field for one to two hours a day.

What is the best part of your job?

Creating new varieties. At the moment, I'm trying to breed a pure black-and-white iris.

And the worst?

Paperwork. But I like my job because it is quite varied.

What piece of kit can't you do without?

I use tweezers for hybridising. I take the stamen from one flower and carry it to another, then wait four to eight days to see if the cross is good. Seeds develop in August and I sow them in October. The next year the plant is transplanted into the fields. It should flower the following year. If the results are good I keep the plant and propagate it. It takes at least seven years to develop a good variety.

How do you wind down?

I love riding horses. It clears my head.

What does the future hold?

I want to sell irises all over Europe. I'm hoping they will sell well in Germany and the UK. Next week I'm going to meet our new UK agent and in May we will be at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.


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