After a long two years trying to keep her small business afloat during a pandemic, a rose farmer's hopes of finally pulling her business back on track have been dealt another hammer blow. Kristy Tippett and her family grow thousands of garden rose bushes in Victoria's Hepburn Springs farming district. Summer storms mean Soho Rose Farm has now lost "the biggest and best" flush of the year - about 13,000 bushes - to hail. Finding her small business ineligible for any government grants throughout the pandemic, Ms Tippett changed tack and opened a shop in a prime position on Ballarat's Sturt Street. Just as the orders started rolling in again, the region was hit by severe storms - bringing with them heavy rain, intense hail and flash flooding. Ms Tippett said roses could be damaged by even a standard summer storm and the plants would normally recover, but the force with which the hail fell from the skies was a "whole other kettle of fish" and caused substantial damage to her 13,000 plants. "We had hail two days in a row, so what it missed the first day it definitely got the second day. I didn't know how much damage hail could do," Ms Tippett said. "It hasn't just damaged the flowers but it knocked buds off and bruised the stems of the plants too." The rose season usually lasts for about six months - from November to May - during which there are normally three flushes - in spring, summer and autumn. But due to the inclement weather in the season so far, with lots of rain but not much sun, she did not have many roses to sell from the spring flush. "The spring was really cold so half of the roses didn't flower. Most just got to the bud stage and without the warm weather they just fizzled on the plant." She cut all of these plants back in anticipation of the summer flush, which is usually "the biggest and best" due to the optimal weather and little rain, which means less fungal diseases. But it wasn't until the consistent warmer weather over Christmas and the New Year that many of the plants started flowering. Her roses were just about ready to flush in time to fill the long list of orders she had received for the next few weeks, and would now be ready to pick, but the storm ripped through the plants before many had the opportunity to fully bloom. Running at a loss for the past two years, this season's orders were crucial to keeping the business - an integral part of the Victorian flower industry as she grows so many flowers of an 'unparalleled quality' - afloat and even bringing the books back into the green, so she described losing the flush as "brutal". "We've already had a pretty hard season - it is the complete opposite to the last few years where I had so many flowers out there just waiting for orders but then we didn't have any because of lockdowns. "But now this year I have so many orders, but I have to cancel them because I don't have the flowers." The plants must begin to be pruned now in the hope those that can be saved will grow back within the next four to six weeks for the autumn flush. "Hopefully that flush will be good and we will then be able to keep going until next season," Ms Tippett said, though adding there was still uncertainty about the year ahead amidst the pandemic.