Holland's soils and climate are ideal for producing flower bulbs.
Holland is the world's oldest and largest producer of flower bulbs. Dutch farmers have been growing and hybridizing bulbs since the 1500s.
Most Dutch Gardens bulbs are grown along the northwest coast of Holland in the bulb-growing area known as the Northern Sand District. There are thousands of family farms in this region, all of which grow flower bulbs. Most of these farms have been in the same family for many generations, and the farmers' pride in the land and in the bulbs they produce is very strong. Growing bulbs for market is a business but it is also a passion.
Farm land in the district is perfect for growing high quality bulbs. Since most of the farms are located just a few miles from the sea, the soil is very sandy. This ensures perfect drainage and encourages bulbs to produce the papery skins that protect them during shipping.
Farmers inspect their growing fields daily--from March when the first green shoots appear, through bloom time in April and the bulb harvest in July--carefully watching for any signs of disease, pests, or bulbs that are deficient in any way. Every field and every crop is also certified three or four times during the season by government inspectors. After harvest, the bulbs are dried, graded and then stored in climate-controlled warehouses in Holland, where they remain until being shipped directly to your home.
How We Select Our Bulbs
Leo Vandervlugt, president of Dutch Gardens, and Maarten Vandervlugt, product manager, evaluate a new tulip variety.
Dutch Gardens has developed close relationships with some of the best growers in Holland. These growers know that we buy only top size bulbs, and that we require state-of-the art storage and handling. They also know that in addition to tried and true favorites such as the Apricot Beauty tulip and Mount Hood daffodil, we are also interested in bringing our customers new and improved varieties that offer something special.
Selecting new bulb varieties for our customers in the U.S. begins three, four or even ten years before the new variety makes its way into the Dutch Gardens catalog or website. New bulb varieties come from two sources: either professional breeders working in any number of places around the world, or from growers who discover new varieties in their own fields, the result of natural genetic variations.
Most Dutch bulb growers maintain a trial area on their farm where they test out new varieties of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, lilies, gladiolus and other bulbs. Of the hundreds of varieties trialed, only a select few ever make it into distribution. A new variety must prove to be stable, disease resistant and vigorous. It must be a distinct improvement over existing varieties. And most importantly, it must excite the eye and quicken the heart!
Our staff in Holland maintain close contact with growers throughout the year, from planting time through harvest and shipping. In the spring, when the bulbs are in bloom, we spend several weeks meeting with growers, visiting production fields, trial gardens and display gardens. We inspect crops of bulb varieties that will be harvested and shipped in the fall, and we are also on the lookout for new colors and improved forms that can be introduced to U.S. gardeners.
Once a new variety is selected for market, the trial stock of 20 or 50 bulbs must be increased until there are enough bulbs to sell. This process may take three to ten years, as the grower harvests and replants his stock each year, slowly building up the number of bulbs. Growers sometimes agree to make new varieties available early, in limited quantities, but they must make sure they retain an adequate supply of bulbs to replant the following year.
Dutch Gardens works with more than 40 of Holland's top bulb growers. All are committed to the very highest quality and all are intensely proud of the bulbs they produce. Working together with these growers, we are able to bring U.S. gardeners the newest, the freshest, and the most spectacular flower bulbs on earth.