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Big, Enormous Feet

I need to get started quickly to tell you about all the highlights of this spring. Last week, I wasted my word limit on talking enthusiastically about a church full of Daffodils, but you can probably guess that there is lots of other stuff that deserves some time in the spotlight.

Every spring is different, but it’s always my favourite time of the year. Summer, also, when you get to take all those bulbs out of the ground again to put new ones in. Autumn too for that reason. And then my final favourite season, winter: Amaryllises everywhere, people sending us photos of them around their decorated home.

My greenhouse has had a fantastic year, too. I had over 400 varieties planted in small pots. I wanted to see how they would perform in an environment like that, and I always want to take my own photos for the Fluwel website, so I can promise you all that whatever you buy in our shop has worked for me when I tried it. Besides the existing varieties, I also pollinated a lot of Daffodils, and the first seeds are ready to be harvested. My youngest daughter has been busy with it.This is part of a Daffodil flower. You can see where the seeds grow. Not every flower you pollinate actually produces seed: it’s only about 10 per cent or so. Obviously, some varieties do this better than others. It takes about five years for these seeds to grow out into a big, fat flower bulb, so in 2030 I might be able to see what this seed brings us. Luckily, a very reliable source told me that the next five years will be over just as fast as the last five. We’ll be there before we know it. And then we can enjoy our new creations: they’ll all be different, as no two seeds from the same Daffodil produce exactly the same flower. It’s like siblings: you can tell they’re related, but they’re not identical twins.So spring started off fabulously, with those hundreds of kinds of Daffodils in my greenhouse. But the ones outside weren’t far behind. They’re always a joy to look at, and as April is a notoriously unreliable month when it comes to the weather, Mother Nature had a little surprise for us to liven the place up too.We had an incredible storm, complete with hail and ice. Those falling sharp pieces gave some flowers a completely different look, sort of like a new haircut for them… but one of those at a hairdresser you don’t know yet but you think it’ll be okay, and then it’s just… not. But there was no time to mourn these petals: there were lots that hadn’t come up yet, so they were undamaged. The storm had a perfect timing, as these things tend to have: my Daffodils got this make-over the day before the World Daffodil Tour participants were set to visit our nursery.Poor Daffodil with all those amputated flower petals… she looks a little sad about it herself. Next year she’ll have another shot.

But the thing about living this close to the sea means that when I’ve seen the weather at my place, I’ve always already seen the worst of it. Other parts of the area had the same weather, but not as intense as it is at my particular location, which meant there was lots left over to show.I’ll also show you some of Jan Hein’s Tulips: they are next to our Daffodils, at the other side of the Canal.Storm and hail managed to prematurely remove the flower heads off of the Tulip stems. She looks a little bruised, like she’s been in a fight outside the bar.About a week later, after the storm had removed the flowers of about half of Jan Hein’s Blue Diamond Tulips, the rest of them were struck too, this time by a late bout of night frost.

Jan Hein loves growing flowers, but I feel pretty safe saying that on days like these, he’d rather have had an office job.

On to a few beautiful things. Let me show you the flower fields. They were absolutely fantastic this year:Tulip field next to the Korte Vliet in Den HelderThe Fluwel Daffodils in Jan Hein’s nursery (a few days before the hail). The white Daffodil is named ‘Love You More’Tulip Exotic Emperor‘De Poldertuin’ in Anna Paulowna: a garden with the same vibe as Keukenhof, but on a way smaller scale. It’s always breathtakingly beautiful.The Tulips of Neighbour Paul across the road from my houseDuring the weekend, lots of people came over to help us out with enjoying the viewAnd! I almost forgot. All my colleagues must be laughing at me right now, but as promised: we will be the first to offer the phenomenal Tulip Love Story. My foot massage offer was taken, and they’re ours!And people tend to be grateful for foot massages, so I also got some extra flowers from Jan. Another fantastic variety.Some people thought I was exaggerating when I told you Jan Vink was about the size of Goliath. Here’s some visual proof–and he’s barefoot in this photo, too.

I’ll have to wrap it up again, I will be picked up in a minute to leave for the Keukenhof party. They organise an event for everyone who supplies bulbs to the park at the end of their season. The whole flower bulb industry attends this party, so I think there was no conversation in the room that wasn’t about flower bulbs or something to do with it.

For dessert, I have a practical announcement, too: 14 May is the last day to order Dahlias and other summer-blooming flower bulbs. If you still want to plant them, you’re absolutely still on time, but you have to get moving.Dahlia French Cancan

Kind regards, 

Carlos van der Veek

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