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"It's not the type of product that you can breed in one year and then auction the next"

“Gloriosa is a flower that you often see in bridal bouquets, funeral floral arrangements and everything in between”, says grower Wim Brouwer. He cultivates this beautiful flower in Nootdorp, in the province of South Holland.

He took over the nursery from his father, who started with the cultivation of gloriosa: "His first generation of plants was eaten by goats. Luckily, he still had the bulbs, and things went well from the second generation onwards."

There might come a time in which his eldest son takes over Wim's company. "He also wants to have his own nursery, but he's gaining experience somewhere else first." For now, Wim has his hands full with propagating and selling the gloriosa: "I still think it's a beautiful product with a shape that is completely different from that of other flowers." Gloriosa has become incredibly popular in recent years. "You often see it on TV, it is the favorite of 8 out of 10 arrangers and events such as 'Kom in de Kas' also help."

The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in Amsterdam was decorated with thousands of long branches of Wim's gloriosas during King Willem-Alexander's inauguration. Crown Jewels Gloriosa, therefore, lives up to its regal name and is also doing well internationally as the flowers are exported to all corners of the world, from Miami to Dubai, shares Wim. The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo got married on 9 August. The wedding venue was also decorated with Wim's gloriosas. How does one find out about his company? "I hope that the quality makes a decisive difference, in addition to my name recognition which has improved a lot since I became involved in the foundation of Floral Fundamentals."

There are only 4 growers who cultivate gloriosas in the Netherlands. "I only have 3 competitors. This is a luxury, although it wouldn't be good to have too few, because then you would run the risk of the market disappearing, and the flower would cease to exist. We all need each other. You can't buy gloriosa bulbs, so you have to propagate them yourself which makes it an increasingly more exclusive product. It's not the type of product that you can breed in one year and then auction the next."

"The red color is the highlight of the cultivated gloriosas. Over a decade ago I started a breeding program which went pretty well. I now have a range of varieties, but I don't have the numbers yet. I'm now in the process of selecting the best varieties. We have yellow flowers, white ones, purple ones, you name it. I was working on a new brown-purple color and, initially, had my doubts. But the Parisian designers who were visiting were wildly enthusiastic. And this new variety is already completely sold out for next year."

Wim hardly uses crop protection products: "We try to produce as sustainably as we can, but sometimes corrections have to be made. We didn't use anything in 2018, but we do need to make some adjustments in 2019. When you have a caterpillar infestation, for example, you can combat it with bacterial preparations. We prefer products that cause as little damage to the environment as possible. I think everyone should do this. And I also think the consumers want this and that the time is ripe for it. In that case, making it mandatory should not be necessary."

Wim takes even more measures to spare the environment as much as possible. Together with his neighbors, Wim started a heat cooperative in early 2019. "We hope to be able to stop using gas within 2 years and switch to residual heat and ground heat. That is a nice objective to work towards!"

Source: Royal FloraHolland

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