GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2006 show9
GardenSMART Newsletter Signup
Visit our Sponsors! Southern Living Dramm
Visit our Sponsors and win.
Past Shows:

Show #9

Nothing says springtime better than tulips. It is a thrill to see thousands of tulips growing up and down mainstreet or en masse at a farm devoted to growing them. In this show we discuss the care and maintenance of tulips, how to use them in bold and pleasing ways, even what to do with them after they fade. There's no better place to do this than in a town that celebrates tulips each year with a festival.

Sally Laukatis is the executive director of the Holland, Michigan Convention and Visitors Bureau. Holland is a town of about 34,000 people and is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa. It was founded in 1847 by Dutch settlers and as a result they've had a love affair with tulips for over 160 years. The Tulip Festival is 70 years old and was started by a biologist named Lida Rogers, a biology teacher, who went before the city council wanting to do something to showcase their Dutch heritage. She convinced the city council to plant 10,000 tulips throughout the city and when they bloomed visitors from all over the country started showing up. The festival now has an international flair, they have an equestrian team from the Netherlands, there is a town crier and people dress up in 1400's Dutch garb. It's a sight to behold. They have a local band, known throughout the country, that marches in wooden shoes as they play Tiptoe Through The Tulips and do a dance routine as they're marching. They have floats, big balloons, headline entertainment, something for every age group.

Jim Veldheer of Veldheer's Tulip Gardens welcomes us. This is a spectacular time of year, the tulips are at their peak the last week of April, the first week of May. This is a family business, Jim's father started it in 1945 with 100 red tulips and 300 white tulips. The bed of French Delegants in front of Jim and Joe contains over 4,000 bulbs alone. Each year over 12 million bulbs come through their doors, over 600 different types of tulips. They focus on quality because quality is a big aspect in the bulb industry today. What they do today, the way the bulb is treated 3 years before you touch the bulb, will make the difference in night and day as to how that flower will look in your yard.

They plant 60,000 bulbs each year by hand, with a little hand planter. Jim's dad, who is 80 and his uncle in his high 70's do most of the planting. 5 and 1/2 million bulbs, not planted by hand are planted by commercial equipment. There are 5600 varieties. To determine which varieties to plant they have test gardens and every year test different varieties for 3 to 5 years before they add them to their list. By doing that one can be assured of receiving the best quality tulips for America.

We next look at some of the test beds. The first is a miniature trial bed. Here there are each of the 13 different families represented. We go past the Darwins, 22 inches tall, beautiful late bloomers, great for cut flowers. Then Lily Tulips, 18 inches tall, mid season, pointed petals, absolutely gorgeous. Multi Florals, 5 to 7 blossoms per stalk. Temple Sisters, 32 inches tall, great big cups on the top. Triumphs, the biggest family of color, 18 inches tall, mid season, a little variation. Fosterianas, early blooming, 18 to 20 inches tall. Highball Glasses, the short Greigii and Kaufmannianas, the 1st color of spring. Peony Tulips, a little flatter, 18 inches, early to late, very full centers. Darwin hybrids, 20 inches tall, early to mid season bloomers, excellent stalks for cut flowers, most somewhat fragrant. Orchid Fringes, look at the edge of the petal, each petal looks individual, unique. The Parrot Tulips with heavy cuts to the petal, late bloomers, 20 inches tall, a white and pink edge on the tulip, even post bloom the variegated margin on the leaves creates interest for a long time. They're all fantastic, beautiful and exciting.

Once these tulips pass their 5 year test period and make it into Jim's lineup these tulips will be good in your garden whether on the east coast, west coast or in between. That is because Jim's amateur gardeners across the country will have tried these different varieties and let Jim know they work all across America.

After blooming remove the seedpod, the top part. Jim likes to cut the stem down to just above the 1st leaf. That way you have a nice hosta looking plant. It makes for a clean looking flower bed and it will look nicer for the 8 weeks it takes for their leaves to turn brown. It's important to leave the foliage intact because the energy of the plant goes straight down from the leaves into the bulb, making it grow bigger. The bulb can more than double its size in those 8 weeks. So, don't remove the foliage until the leaves are completely brown. Jim has a little tip. Once a week, through this period, give it a light shot of liquid fertilizer, this will make a big difference. Another method, since people don't want to look at the brown foliage, is to plant something that will come up during this same time and look fresh.

Joe asks why don't people plant tulips from seed. Jim tells us that from the 1st mature seed to the first bulbette is 7 years. Then from a bulbette to the 1st flower the size of a nickel or dime is another 7 years, for now a total of 14 years. It's another 7 years to be top size. That's 21 years, quite an investment in time.

Each bulb puts out baby bulbs or pups. They grow along side the mother and will number anywhere between 2 and 12. The more bulbettes on the mothers side mean the less chance of flowers the following year. We dig one up. These bulbs are planted 8 inches deep. It is brown and on the side are the offspring. When peeling away the layers we spot an offspring, then another. They look just like onions. Keep the mother in a cool dry place during the summer, in an onion bag or an old pair of pantyhose. Plant it next September. The smallest bulbs will take 5 to 8 or 10 years to be top size. Put the smaller bulbs in your beds and over time they will mature to top size.

After tulips go over, how do we care for them? In the northern climate, where it stays below 50 degrees for 12 weeks or more in the wintertime the bulbs can stay in the ground and they will go multi years without harvesting and you can expect to enjoy their color. If living in areas where it comes above 50 during these 12 weeks, allow the foliage to die back and at that point harvest the bulbs. Let them rest over the summer, come September put them in the refrigerator with no onions, apples or citrus products and between the 1st of December to the 1st of January put them in the ground. Then in spring, March to April, they will have big beautiful blooms.

Joe has a tip. When planting bulbs in a container or in the ground you can get them off to a good start by adding some slow release fertilizer. All you do is sprinkle it on the soil, then work it in to between 1 and 6 inches depending on how deep the bulbs are planted, then cover them up. You can also apply a slow release fertilizer right after the bulbs finish flowering and that will help provide the energy it needs to produce flowers next season.

Joe next meets Ad Van dan Acker the Managing director at Windmill Island. Joe likes Ad's costume and admires the windmill. The costume is a typical Dutch costume, called Achterhoek. It's from the Achterhoek area but today wouldn't be worn in the Netherlands, it's now just tourist related. The wooden shoes however are worn today. Gardeners there wear wooden shoes, they're comfortable, light, they keep feet dry and warm in the wintertime. The windmill is called DeZwaan and came from the province of North Brabant. It's 18 stories tall and is 246 years old. Since there is a large Dutch settlement in this area they wanted to celebrate their heritage. They brainstormed and came up with the idea of a windmill. It took about 5 years to bring it here but it now is the centerpiece of this park. And with this comes the tulips, also very Dutch. There are 175,000 tulips on this island, one field alone has 100,000, with another 75,000 bulbs spread throughout the remainder of the park. Ad has specific design ideas he employs when planting these beds. He is always looking for massive plantings. One bed has yellows, oranges and reds. And the colors blend together. The mass plantings jump out and are beautiful. The colors flow together. Joe feels that the tones are all members of the same family. He gets a calming, soothing sense. But Ad has created a different feel, or different look, by using different design techniques. In another bed there are red tulips next to tulips with white and yellow. The opposite colors work together and blend nicely. Another bed has reds that fade into pinks and the pinks into purples. This too works well. In another bed Ad has mixed different colors, he wanted to create contrast. They used tulips with different shapes which draws attention, as well. The different colors and different shapes create a dramatic effect. Joe takes away from all this the thought that it's not so much whether you put opposite colors together or similar colors with different shades together, the key for dramatic effect is to plant en masse. At home plant larger numbers together, no matter the colors.

Eric Johnson shares his weekly Tip. Everybody loves roses but they can be tricky to use in small spots like a patio garden. Eric has several great ideas to bring roses back into your outdoor living space. He shows us a teak box with a Rose 'Climbing Iceberg' planted up against a trellis. This is fantastic for year round blooming, brilliant fragrance and they're beautiful. Next, Eric shows us a Knockout Rose in a small teak box. These plants are disease resistant and look fantastic all season. The roses will also do well in ceramic containers. Eric has an 'Iceberg' planted in a ceramic container. So think about roses in containers as a way to bring beautiful color back into your garden patio. FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT OUR WEB SITE - CLICK ON - GARDENING TIPS.

Joe next visits with Jim Yonker of Yonkers Gardens. We 1st look at a specie tulip. It is smaller than its bigger relatives but they bloom earlier. The best part is they're hardy and come back year after year. They naturalize or perennialize, they seed themselves, they multiply. Every year the clump gets bigger and showier and the seedlings scatter, starting new plants. Those new plants don't produce flowers the next year, in fact it takes 3 or 4 years, but it is worth the wait. As with other tulips you need for the foliage to fade but Jim has several ideas to hide that unsightly foliage. The following plants are great for filling in empty spaces. Jim likes the Geranium. This is a Pandora geranium. His customers have nicknamed it a tulip geranium because each flower looks like a miniature tulip. Dahlias are another great choice. Not only are there many colors, but you also have different sizes and shapes available. There is a shorter variety, little Dahliettas, then medium all the way up to a huge Dinner Plate Dahlia. The Dinner Plate dahlia can get so heavy that its a good idea to stake it because in a strong wind the flower gets so heavy it will flop over. Coleus is a popular plant and has been undergoing many changes. One is the Kong series of coleus. The size of the leaves is bigger than the entire original plant. It's not your grandmothers Coleus anymore. There are varieties now available for sun which is different from the original which were primarily shade plants. These are bred to thrive in full sun and in hot temperatures. It is a versatile plant. And now there are many great color combinations. One is chartreuse green with a deep burgundy margin. They are fun in the garden because you can pull out the different colors. Petunias have also come a long way. On one plant the flowers are smaller but there are many of them, they cover themselves with color. There are great colors and they're great for hanging baskets. Joe likes the Argyranthemum Butterfly. It has a pleasant yellow color and has tons of buds and it will put out flowers all summer long.

Joe thanks Jim for the tour. He has shown us some great plants

Links ::

Holland Convention & Visitors Bureau
Haworth Inn & Conference Center
Windmill Island
Jonker's Garden

Back to Top

GardenSMART Featured Article

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Have your hanging baskets seen better days? It’s normal, by midsummer they are ready for a little TLC to bring them back to their former glory. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

  Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!  
Copyright © 1998-2012 GSPC. All Rights Reserved.