A New Year

Another year to write more than fifty newsletters, and I’m already unsure of what to talk about in this very first one. I’ve had plenty of feedback asking me to please be a little bit more serious in my letters to you all, not too much talking about legumes and strange neighbours and hyperactive cats. Honestly, without those options I have even less of an idea about what is appropriate content. The flower bulbs? The flower bulbs that can be planted in Spring are available in our web shop at the moment. We’re trying that for the first time this year, and I expected low sales and people not yet thinking about their summer flowers yet, but I was proven wrong fairly quickly. It always surprises me how many customers are ready to order the moment the flower bulbs go online. I’m very happy with the people who do that, I really do appreciate it. It just surprises me, as just a few years ago I knew mostly people who waited to order until the moment they could plant their new bulbs right away. But we’re moving away from that: People seem to like planning their gardens way in advance, and then ordering their favourites early. At least this way you can be sure to get the varieties you really wanted to try.


New in our assortment: Dahlia High Fidelity

Meanwhile, I still have no idea what to talk about. The weather? It’s still raining. Sometimes we even have storms so severe they get a name. I would be surprised if all the flowers that we are going to be digging up this Spring are in pristine condition. I’ll sound like an old man saying this (luckily, I still know even older old men), but I can genuinely tell you that the weather has never been this wet. We’ll know more about the bulbs in a few months time, but before then, all we can do is wait and see. A small light at the end of the tunnel is that the weather predictions for the upcoming two weeks are slightly better. I don’t dare to believe it yet, we saw similar promises last autumn, and those did not turn out to be all that true. It was like the sign in our local bar that reads ‘Free beer tomorrow’: the next day, the sign will still say tomorrow, and so on.

  Dahlia Princess Nadine

Speaking of free, this does give me the opportunity to answer people who ask for free shipping. Unfortunately, we don’t do that for anyone. Allow me to explain: shipping costs are about 10% of the cost of a variety in our web shop. We could add an extra 10% to our prices and then offer ‘free shipping’ (which is what every company offering free shipping does: you always pay it somewhere), but we deliver bulbs to many different locations. If your great-aunt from three cities over from Fluwel orders bulbs, and so does your long-distance friend from Finland, one of them is paying an unfair price in order to compensate the other. If you are in a totally different country and want to order from The Netherlands, the reality is that you pay more for that than people who order from us as a somewhat ‘local’ company. We’ve never added any kind of shipping cost to our product prices, and you can see that when you look at the numbers: our prices are not weirdly high. Something we do actually offer is that when your order is extremely large, and it does not fit in one box, we pay for the second (and third, etc.) one. Your shipping cost doesn’t go up if you need more boxes: we’re happy you are ordering that much, and we would like large orders to have that reward. Of course there are people at Fluwel who feel that free shipping is the better option, it feels cheaper to customers, and they like that. But I really want to emphasize that free shipping really doesn’t exist. Web shops with free shipping could always offer cheaper products and paid shipping, and then the number at the bottom of the bill would be exactly the same. It’s all psychological, and I want to choose the option where everyone pays exactly the same for the actual bulbs, plus a fair price for the distance over which the bulbs need to be shipped.


Amaryllis: The most beautiful part of any home during the winter months. This variety is called Beautiful Emotion.


The culinary delight of my year: The Lemon Bean

I do have to bring some sad news, too. The sales of my beloved beans. I had expected to reach thousands of people with my heartfelt Christmas story about the Legumes Committee, but people don’t seem to be too sold on them yet. Perhaps it had to do with timing, right before Christmas no one was thinking of eating beans, probably. Or maybe I should have told you that it is also possible to plant them in your garden? I planted an Eroïca myself, and in just three days I could see roots forming. But I still want to encourage you to try to make them for dinner, even just one time. It’s real power food, incredibly healthy. I’ve added a recipe in my previous newsletter. You can find it on the web site, too.

Over the last weeks, I’ve also tried to organize the photographs I have stored on my computer. I have thousands of them, especially when I add the ones taken with my mobile phone, too. I found this one, I took it at the Trade Fair in Aalsmeer, at the stand of Bloemenbureau Holland. If you ever wondered where all those new Lilies are coming from:


That’s not to say that we will be delivering Lilies to you like this if you order them at Fluwel… if only. But I do really like the photo. The same stand at Trade Fair also had this work of art:


Very simple, but very elegant.

There is another new Lily in our assortment that I think deserves the spotlight: Exotic Sun.


Lilium Exotic Sun is a uniquely coloured double O.T. Lily. O.T. stands for Oriental x Trompet, and this type of Lily has good characteristics for gardening due to her Trompet Lily heritage. If you appreciate Lilies, this is a variety you simply have to try for yourself.

I have to wrap it up already, I’ve almost gone over my word count yet again.

See you next week!

Kind regards,

Carlos van der Veek