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GardenSMART Episode

Show #32/5306. Keukenhoff And Aalsmeer

Summary of Show

Commercial Cultivation
Eric asks Hans talk to about the COMMERCIAL CULTIVATION of flower bulbs, specifically tulips. These are not grown from seed in a field. They want them to be identical to the initial bulb that was planted. But how are they divided or how are they cultivated and how should we care for them? Hans responds - the grower is outside of the park. They grow the tulips for selling all over the world and the tulips are standing now in the spring and summer in the fields. But for example, at home when these have flowered you have to cut the flower at the top.
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Bulb Size
Another reason a lot of people are disappointed in BULB SIZE is because they leave the bulbs in the ground. Not good. You have to dig them up because when you leave them in the ground it will grow but it makes more little ones. Instead separate the bulb, then you will get a new, bigger flower. So every year cut the flower, let them stand five, six weeks, then dig them up, dry them a little, take the roots off, replant the big ones and the small ones throw away. Outside the park the growers they do it differently.
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Bulbs For Warmer Climates
Eric wonders, what advice Hans would have for someone like himself who lives in a WARMER SOUTHERN CLIMATE where tulips tend to be more of an annual. We don't get a good repeat bloom, would that be a situation where we need to dig the bulb up and refrigerate it over the winter months? Yes, you can put them in a refrigerator for four to five weeks at five or six degrees celsius above zero.
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Trial And Evaluation
A very important function of this garden is TRIAL AND EVALUATION of new selections. This is a space where breeders and also the buyers and gardeners can come see what is happening in the world of bulbs, look at the ones they like and from there make their selections.
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Royal Flora Holland
GardenSMART next travels to Aalsmeer, and visits ROYAL FLORA HOLLAND. Michel van Schie is the press officer at Royal Flora Holland. He and Eric discuss the logistics of purchasing flowers from the largest assortment in the world. Eric thanks Michel for spending time with us. This is one of the most exciting places in all of international horticulture.
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How Big - Size
Eric observes that when people arrive here it is impossible to get a sense of HOW BIG this place is. The first time he visited was probably a decade ago and it was just staggering how huge the operation is. He wonders can Michel put that into some kind of scale for us?
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Logistics
Eric would like for Michele to talk a little about the LOGISTICS because there's so much product that moves through here. It is fascinating when you look at the operation in motion, all these carts whizzing around and you've got to keep up with everything from the plane, into the cold storage, then through the entire process of it being sold, then shipped to the buyer. How does that work?
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Auction Room
The buyers can be in the AUCTION ROOM where they see on the clock what product and the price of that product. The price will go down and they have to push a button when they want to buy a certain amount of flowers. And because when they are eager to buy flowers they will push as early as possible to make sure they get the flower and the quality they desire.
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Buyers And Growers
On an average day how many BUYERS AND HOW MANY GROWERS are interacting? There are a total of four thousand growers, more or less, who bring the flowers to them. Of course, some products are not all year round products and so they will not bring every day the products to the auction. But they have, say, four thousand growers and more than six thousand buyers from all over the world who buy the flowers here. So how many different countries are represented in their group of buyers?
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Show #32/5306. Keukenhoff And Aalsmeer

Transcript of Show

In this Episode GardenSMART visits one of the largest demonstration gardens in the world with some of the newest and most exiting species displayed every year, then we travel to one of the worlds largest auction houses where many of these plants find their way from the farmer to your own home and garden. It's an exciting show, join us as we GardenSMART in Holland.

Keukenhof is such an amazing and beautiful garden our fantastic camera man Dettrick takes us on a 3 plus minute video tour of Keukenhof. And it is stunning. Keukenhof is the largest bulb planting in the world. We visit again to learn about tulip breeding and bulb separation. While there we meet with Hans de Barbansson and discover what it takes to manage the tulips of Keukenhoff.

Eric asks Hans talk to about the COMMERCIAL CULTIVATION of flower bulbs, specifically tulips. These are not grown from seed in a field. They want them to be identical to the initial bulb that was planted. But how are they divided or how are they cultivated and how should we care for them? Hans responds - the grower is outside of the park. They grow the tulips for selling all over the world and the tulips are standing now in the spring and summer in the fields. But for example, at home when these have flowered you have to cut the flower at the top. This causes the plants to start to grow from the bottom, at the roots into the new bulb. But what people do at home they make a mistake because when the flower turns brown and they don't like that so they cut the leaves which stops the growing. This causes the bulb to be too small next year. Hans digs some of them up and explains how it works. Here he has a bulb, it was planted in autumn, in this case November. When you dig them up now you see it's too small because it hasn't grown. When you cut the flower then the bulb starts to grow. Hans shows us a bulb planted last year, now after cutting the flower, the food goes back into the bulb. It must stay in the ground for five or six weeks more. When the leaves are brown and dried then you can dig them up. You see that the bulb is a little brown but that's okay. Dig it up, dry it a little, store it, and replant it in autumn. But there are people that cut the leaves this time of year, that stops the growth and this is an example of that. Cutting this time of year stops the growth, the bulb will be too little for making a good sized new flower.

Another reason a lot of people are disappointed in BULB SIZE is because they leave the bulbs in the ground. Not good. You have to dig them up because when you leave them in the ground it will grow but it makes more little ones. Instead separate the bulb, then you will get a new, bigger flower. So every year cut the flower, let them stand five, six weeks, then dig them up, dry them a little, take the roots off, replant the big ones and the small ones throw away. Outside the park the growers they do it differently. They cut the flowers, they dig them up also at the end of June or July, they store them, in cooler temperatures. That way you make a new flower and the big ones are separated from the small ones and the big ones are sold all over the world and the small ones the grower will replant them for next year. That method works outside of the park but here this is a show garden, they are selling the bulbs so that is why they dig them up earlier. So the important thing to remember is that the foliage is where the food comes from. If we take that off then energy is not able to make it back down to the bulbs and it is not able to grow healthy and strong.

Eric wonders, what advice would Hans have for someone like himself who lives in a WARMER SOUTHERN CLIMATE where tulips tend to be more of an annual. We don't get a good repeat bloom, would that be a situation where we need to dig the bulb up and refrigerate it over the winter months? Yes, you can put them in a refrigerator for four to five weeks at five or six degrees celsius above zero. That is because they need winter cold otherwise they will be too short and make a little flower. But when the bulbs have winter cold they then have a push. Plant them in November or December because they have to make new roots. At that point they've been exposed to cold temperatures, will start to grow and then will have a new larger flower. When you leave them in the ground the flower is too small, it doesn't work. What they say in Holland is put new bulbs into the ground and let them go, enjoy them, dig them up, thrown them away and buy new ones so we have more beautiful tulips.

A very important function of this garden is TRIAL AND EVALUATION of new selections. This is a space where breeders and also the buyers and gardeners can come see what is happening in the world of bulbs, look at the ones they like and from there make their selections. The ones that are the most successful end up going to the growers out in the fields and then ultimately find their way into the auction house. When their growers want to show a new variety Hans plants them here so the customers can come here to look at the varieties and when they see a good one, a nice color they talk with the grower about how they must treat them, do they need temperature, do they need cold to make a new flower for next year? So, one can basically come to one space and look at many different red tulips, many different white tulips, pretty much every single type that one could imagine. The parrot tulips, darwins, triumphs pretty much everything is here. Yes you can find here every kind of tulip but, for instance, the botanical tulips are not for breeding. It doesn't work. The most famous family for breeding are the triumph family that are like a height of forty centimeters, you have several colors, they are not so heavy for transport. So it is also a commercial thing. Every winter millions of tulips are bred with all kinds of flowers, all kinds of colors. When the grower is crossing two families to each other it becomes maybe a new tulip but it takes several years, about eight years, to have the right amount of bulbs for making a new variety. Eric wonders is most of the breeding work focused on gardening or is it focused on the cut flower market? It is focused on the cut flower market. They sell millions and millions of tulips all over the world, in Europe and America, everywhere. Eric is assuming that many of those varietals, if not most of them, also work perfectly fine in the garden. Yes, you can can plant every type of tulip in your garden but buy big bulbs because with big bulbs you have great flowers and with small bulbs you may be a little disappointed because when you visit Keukenhof you see giant tulips but they plant here always the biggest bulbs. For the best show in spring it is worth spending a little extra money to get the larger bulbs.

Eric thanks Hans for spending the day with us and showing off this amazing place. We have learned so much. Hans in turn thanks Eric. It was a great pleasure for him and he hopes that a lot of GardenSMART viewers will come to visit Keukenhof because it is a most unique park in all of the world.

Eric asks - Did you ever wonder where all the flowers we see in grocery stores, in floral shops, etc. come from? In response to the increased power of brokering, flower gardeners in Aalsmeer joined forces and the Central Aalsmeer Auction was launched on January 5, 1912. Today it is one of the largest auction companies in the world. Each year millions of flowers and plants change hands at Royal Flora Holland.

GardenSMART next travels to Aalsmeer, and visits ROYAL FLORA HOLLAND. Michel van Schie is the press officer at Royal Flora Holland. He and Eric discuss the logistics of purchasing flowers from the largest assortment in the world. Eric thanks Michel for spending time with us. This is one of the most exciting places in all of international horticulture. Eric would like for Michel to talk to us a little bit about what Royal Flora Holland is. Royal Flora Holland is a corporation, a cooperative company, which means that they are owned by their members and those members are all growers. So they are acting in the interest of their members, in the interest of their growers. They are an auction, a market place and their main purpose is to get the optimum price for the product for their growers.

Eric observes that when people arrive here it is impossible to get a sense of HOW BIG this place is. The first time he visited was probably a decade ago and it was just staggering how huge the operation is. He wonders can Michel put that into some kind of scale for us? Their yearly turnover is four point seven billion euro. And that means they sold last year 10 billion stems or products. Wow. One stem is one product, one plant is one product, but that's quite more than the number of people on the earth.

Eric would like for Michel to talk about the footprint of this building. This is one of the largest buildings in the world. In fact number five of the largest buildings. When you take the square meters, the surface of the building is 1.4 million square meters. And that's more than the surface of Monaco for instance. Wow, that's incredible.

Eric would like for Michele to talk a little about the LOGISTICS because there's so much product that moves through here. It is fascinating when you look at the operation in motion, all these carts whizzing around and you've got to keep up with everything from the plane, into the cold storage, then through the entire process of it being sold, then shipped to the buyer. How does that work? Their products come from several parts of the world. For instance Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia are large growers and they bring the products to this auction. That means that they have to have good logistics from Kenya to the Amsterdam airport and of course from the Amsterdam airport to their premises here in Aalsmeer. They also have products from growers in the Netherlands. Approximately fifty percent of all flowers are coming from Holland. They are brought to this venue the evening before or in the night before so they can start with the auction at six o'clock in the morning. They do everything they can to make sure that all the products that are sold leave their logistics place at approximately one o'clock in the afternoon.

How does the auction interact with the buyers? The buyers can be in the AUCTION ROOM where they see on the clock what product and the price of that product. The price will go down and they have to push a button when they want to buy a certain amount of flowers. And because when they are eager to buy flowers they will push as early as possible to make sure they get the flower and the quality they desire. It is also possible to buy from a distance so a lot of people do that. One can be in Moscow or in Berlin to buy flowers that are at auction and then you buy online and then the flowers will be brought to the place you want them to be brought to. The logistics service companies will bring the flowers, for instance, to Germany.

On an average day how many BUYERS AND HOW MANY GROWERS are interacting? There are a total of four thousand growers, more or less, who bring the flowers to them. Of course, some products are not all year round products and so they will not bring every day the products to the auction. But they have, say, four thousand growers and more than six thousand buyers from all over the world who buy the flowers here. So how many different countries are represented in their group of buyers? Michele doesn't know exactly but it is fair to say that they really come from all parts of the world because they are the main market place, the largest market place in the world and approximately sixty percent of all the flowers worldwide are being handled by Royal Flora Holland. We came here on a pretty busy day. What kind of volume would Michele expect on a day like today? He thinks you might say that on a day like this, maybe eighty million products are being sold. What is the range of products? Today we are looking at mostly cut flowers but are there are also bare root perennials, bulbs, things like that that run through this auction house? No, they don't do bulbs, but of course garden plants. But the main part is cut flowers and the most popular is the rose. But you must understand there are more than nine hundred different roses so 3.3 billion roses are sold at their market place. And the same goes for tulips. There are 1.9 billion tulips sold each year at Royal Flora Holland. So this changes with the seasons but this is truly a year round auction house? Correct? Yes, all the year round but lets say most tulips are being sold in spring time.

Eric thanks Michel, this is a fascinating place. We've learned so much about gardening with bulbs and design as well as the way one of the most elaborate plant auctions in the world works. It's been fascinating. Thank you so much for showing us this amazing auction facility. We're just thrilled to be here. Michele thanks Eric and GardenSMART, they were glad to have us visit.

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