It is almost Autumn, which means the real fun is about to start!
We are busy at the warehouse: busy making sure everyone is going to get their flower bulbs on time this autumn. Everything has been packed in yellow nets or brown paper, and now those packages are waiting in alphabetical order until they are going to be on their way to their new owners. Most of you reading my letter have probably already ordered, I assume you did it a long time ago–and if you did, you’re lucky, because orders are packed in the same order in which they came in. Next week, October 4, to be precise, also known as World Animal Day, we are going to have even more PostNL lorries on our driveway. Forklifts will be driving around non-stop to send all those orders on their way. Whenever a full one leaves, we all line up to wave goodbye to our precious flower bulbs, obviously. Truly, we do that! Have done so for years, we started when we had only a small number of orders and every time we sent something out into the world, it was still a precious and new occasion. You probably still don’t believe me, but that’s alright. I cannot be there personally this year to make sure you get photographic evidence, though: I will be in England in the following few weeks, but I will see if I can ask someone if they could take a photo of a waving-goodbye moment.
An indestructible flower bulb that lasts longer than many perennial plants.
I picked up on the habit of waving goodbye to stuff you’re sending out in Japan. Back in the day, we did a lot of business in Japan. When we were there, we used the Shinkansen train to get around: the Japanese version of the Train à Grande Vitesse. That train has the precision of a Swiss watch, it departs on time down to the very second. The Japanese views are beautiful, and the cities are a must-see as well. When we used it, the train began and ended at Tokyo Niigata. It was there for about ten minutes, and in that time, about ten young women managed to clean the train to the level of absolute spotlessness. It probably helps that the Japanese are very clean people: I am always surprised to see just how little trash they leave behind anywhere they go. If you’ve ever taken the train between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, you’ll be familiar with the fact that the Dutch are quite different when it comes to this. But anyway, when the workers leave the train, they all gather next to the tracks, and when the train leaves, they wave to the train, the driver, and everyone in it. So when I saw that, I had never seen anything of the kind before: this seems to me a kind of pride that is not there in the Dutch culture. So, I thought we should learn something from them and wave our work goodbye, too. It’s an extra sign that the work is truly done, and that we’ve sent our best work out into the world. When we just started, it was half a cart that had to be loaded on one of those small vans that still counts as a normal car, now we are dealing with those large lorries that have to wait for each other when they don’t all fit on the driveway. But no matter how many packages we have to deliver, we are still as proud as the first day someone actually ordered something in our web shop and we got to send bulbs to someone we didn’t know personally.
One of the prettiest and best new Crocuses
I do have to admit… if you order late, you might not get bulbs that were waved goodbye by us personally. That privilege is just for the bulbs that are ordered before the first day we start sending everything out. It’s no use to call Renata at the office to ask her if she would be so kind to wave to your flowerbulbs: she won’t do it. There has to be some kind of special treatment to all those people who are okay waiting for their flowers a little bit longer, and this is it. I hope this does not make you too sad to hear this. If it does, the only option is to order earlier next year: then, your bulbs will be amongst those who get the personal good-bye, and you can see if they perform any differently because of it.
Not the world’s easiest plant, but if she likes you and your treatment of her… wow.
What else is there to tell about our flower bulbs? They seem to be of good quality this year. The season started out a bit roughly, as many weekly readers may remember. There were some big dips in certain varieties due to weather that was far from ideal at the beginning of Spring. I have told you time and time again to be early this year, as many varieties won’t get the numbers they usually have. If you’ve taken my word at the beginning of the season, then you may also remember me telling you that the quality of the bulbs might be impacted as well, but I am happy to report that that does not seem to be the case. We send our flower bulbs out late, later than many other flower bulb companies, but you have to understand that this gives us a lot of extra time to look for the best quality and to make sure every bulb we send out actually meets our standards. Still, looking through the eyes of a flower bulb sommelier, this year won’t make the history books as a year of extraordinary quality and abundance. They are good, they are what you are used to from us, but we are hoping for a better season next year. I want to be honest with you about that, especially since many of my readers are far from beginners in the garden, and are probably able to recognise this for themselves as well.
This Tulip shows that it does not take a lot of color in order to look colorful.
I do spend time thinking about that: for who, exactly, are we planting all these flower bulbs year after year? Is this truly for ourselves, for our own pleasure? Or are we looking to impress other people who might visit us or who can look into our garden from the street? I have come to the conclusion that I mostly plant them for other people to enjoy. Obviously, I enjoy flowers myself, too, especially when I look for new varieties and find flowers I had never even heard of before. But if I have a look at Allium Ambassador, for example, I am way happier with the people that are happy with their own Allium than I am with the Allium in my own garden. I think it’s a nice bulb, sure, but I’d much rather see the two other Alliums that are new in our webshop this year in my own garden. It has to do with my own curiosity, I suppose. When I was younger, I appreciated flowers I already knew much more, but as I have spend more years with all those flowers, I have shifted over into wanting to see how other people react to them. But however you enjoy your flower bulbs, enjoyment is enjoyment.
I think I’ve told you enough for this week. Happy shopping!
Still the most eye-catching Allium out there.
Carlos van der Veek
One last message: if you enjoy planting flowers for other people like I do, then I recommend planting a Daffodil mixture somewhere along the side of a busy road close to your home. You and your neighbors will be able to enjoy them for many years to come. Almost all Daffodils tend to do well for several years if you plant them in an appropriate place, and they are not too picky about what counts as appropriate, either. They just need some sun and to be left alone. Varieties that are best when it comes to planting and never thinking of them again are Ice Follies, Carlton, and Jetfire. The classic Tete a Tete is another gem. They return for years.
This group of them has been next to our local canal for as long as I can remember.
Another nice thing to do might be to buy flower bulbs and gift them to another friend who you know has a garden. An additional gift in this situation is offering right away to help them plant the flower bulbs: you’ll get time together as a bonus, too! I know from experience that offering to help plant bulbs is often rejected first, but this is just because people want to be polite and don’t want to make others work for them. Just insist that you would actually like to spend your time like this, and they will likely agree and let you help anyway. Gardening is a social activity, it’s just that some people don’t know that yet.
But now I’m really going to stop talking. Every flower that has been featured in this newsletter is a gem in the garden, and I highly recommend them all.
The largest of its kind. A perfect flower to pick and put in a vase inside your house: they have an absolutely wonderful scent.