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The Fat Frits

And with this I mean the Fritillarias of Dirk Hoogland from the town of Dirkshoorn. Dirk is a true ‘achterdijker’ which means that he lives behind one of the dikes in The Netherlands. In this case, this would be the Westfriese Omringdijk. No worries, they are still decent people, but they will always be ‘achterdijkers’. During the winter, Dirk and his father showed up at my greenhouse to look at Amaryllises, which he has started growing as well. I can hear you wondering, Amaryllises in Dirkshoorn? I am talking about Amaryllises that can be grown outside, which has been of interest to more flower growers in our area lately. We will talk about that in another newsletter, let us discuss the Frits of Dirk now. 

Next to the Amaryllis, Dirk is also grower of the Kaiser’s Crown, which is the official name of the Frittillaria imperialis. Over the years, he has built up a beautiful assortment of Kaiser’s Crowns, and for this he has been trying to get my attention. Dirk, I will come and have a look soon. And that time was last Monday. Everything goes by hand when handling this beautiful and fragile flower bulb. Harvesting, sorting, growing, everything goes by hand.  

One by one the bulbs are measured, put at the right place for their size on the conveyor belt, and gently coddled into a crate at the end of the line. Wonderful to see how much care goes into these bulbs, and what wonderful quality they are. There might be a good chance that Dirk will succeed in selling us Fritillarias.

I also went to Het Westland (a region in the Netherlands) this week. There was a nice Peony show by the grower that will supply us our Peonies. This was truly a feast, such beautiful flowers and a lovely show. It was an event hosted by different flower companies; Flower Trials. Companies have open days for their customers to show their products. The Peonies stood in the greenhouse of Hendrik Young Plants, a company that specializes in Fuchsias, Pelargoniums, and Osteospermums.

The Peonies in the cold store, ready for transport to the show

Multiple companies were represented and there was a lot to see. For example, a company that trades cuttings and plant material of all kinds of succulents.When I visit shows like these, I always need to restrain myself or I will get too enthusiastic because of all the wonderful plants. Peculiar personality trait, I love too many plants and I want to have them all. Of course that is impossible, you cannot have everything that you wish for, but I think a lot of people have traits like this. Some people have it with clothing, when they see something nice, they want to buy it. Other people have this with travelling, when discovering a new destination, they want to go. These are interests or hobbies that are lovely to have, but when not being careful, can get out of control. It could also be with cooking or baking, holding chickens or even worse: horses. I have this with plants… but luckily, I can restrain myself a bit. The Daffodil will always have my heart, but I must admit that the Peony has charmed me a great deal in the past spring. Naturally, I have wondered why this is the case. You see, I wonder about a lot of strange things. My conclusion was that the Peony has a lot of similarities to the Daffodil. Both are very trustworthy plants that do not require a lot of effort to show up yearly. You could call them true partygoers; as long as there is enough to eat and drink, you cannot get rid of them. You probably know some of these people yourself. In some cases, you need to turn the lights on, start clearing up the tables, and sometimes even get the vacuum before they decide to go home. Well, this too is the case with the Daffodil and the Peony. If you will not get the shovel, dig them out of the earth and throw them in your green container, you will never get rid of them. No, do not place them at the compost heap then: there are plenty of nibbles and drinks to find there, in which case you will find they have started their own party over there next year.Kees van Velden with a Rebecca

Ah, I really got sidetracked there. Back to Het Westland. Whenever you are there, you cannot leave without a visit to one of the Amaryllis growers. Let’s see how the Amaryllises are looking. No worries, they are looking good. They look sharp as ever, but whether they will turn nice and big the growers could not or do not wish to tell us. There is a Dutch saying: ‘when the farmer does not complain and the priest does not ask, the end of time is near.’ And well, the same goes for the Amaryllis growers in their greenhouses. Last year it was too hot, and now it is too cold. Too cold? In a greenhouse? Yes, it is not just about temperature, but it is mainly the shortage of light because of the rainy weather we have been having. Kees told me that next to warmth, the Amaryllis needs daylight to grow.Whatever it is, they were looking good to me, and I do not think we need to worry about our Amaryllis bulbs this fall. But enough of the chitchat, I will start writing about Peonies again. The end is in sight, only a few more texts to go and some information about growing, and then the pen can go back in the box. You may wonder what time they will be for sale. Tomorrow or the day after we will try to put them online. After this we will start finetuning everything and then you can order them from next week (Sunday 23 June) onwards. I am looking forward to it, let’s sell some peonies! See you next week!

With kind regards,

Carlos van der Veek

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