Beneath vibrant fields of color lie van Eeden Tulips’ treasured produce: bulbs. With the beginning of spring come the vast paddocks of reds, pinks, yellows, and whites as the sun begins to shine and flowers bloom.
Production manager John van Eeden explained that, while some find it hard to understand, it was the bulbs resting under the floral display they worked hard to cultivate and grow, not the flowers per se.
Very much a family-run business, he and his brothers took over from their parents who emigrated to New Zealand in the 1950s from the Netherlands. They originally set up shop in Waimate but gradually moved further south, first to Balclutha, then just outside of Invercargill where the fields are now. The siblings spent a lot of time helping on the farm growing up.
Mr. van Eeden pointed out it was Southland’s climate - wet and not too warm - that made it ideal for growing quality tulips. ‘‘Some say it is the best climate in the world; better than Holland in a way."
About 25 hectares were planted, and when the bulbs were harvested in January, the majority - about 65% - were exported overseas to the United States and Holland. The rest went to the New Zealand market. He did not have a favorite color as such, but the less usual varieties were preferred, as these were more valuable.
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