Delphinium: hard to grow, but beautiful!
André Westendorp, Nico Wigchert and Marcel de Rooij. Three growers with one passion: Delphiniums. “When the flowers are in full bloom and the colour is shining brightly…there are few flowers that are as radiant as the delphinium,” says Nico Wigchert.
Marcel de Rooij: “We share our knowledge. You really have to work for a delphinium. It is technically difficult to grow a good flower. That is the thing I really like,” says Marcel de Rooij from Quality4Flowers in Oude Wetering. “Nico Wigchert taught me the tricks of the trade. Nico, André and I share our knowledge. We work a little differently but all three of us focus on the product: how do you create a good delphinium? This is what creates the bond.”
On the move
At Quality4Flowers, the delphiniums are in the greenhouse as well as outside in the open ground. “We cut the flowers from the middle of May until the middle of November. After harvesting we move the plants from the greenhouse to cold storage. There we create our own winter. It is a lot of work, but by doing this we can spread out the harvest better. In January we take the first plants out of storage for cuttings. From February we take a batch of ‘perennial’ plants to the greenhouse again. A plant lasts for three years; they are then replaced before the quality deteriorates.”
“We walk around a lot to search for flowers that have reached the same stage: up to 8km a day” – Marcel de Rooij
Nico Wigchert: “Always looking for new varieties” “Growth, cultivation and breeding; we do everything ourselves”, says Nico Wigchert from delphinium nursery N.G. Wigchert. “My father started breeding Delphinium elatum (double flowered) as a cut flower. That is where our DEWI series came from. We are always looking for new varieties. They must be good for breeding (not be susceptible to disease for example) and be attractive”, says Nico. “I have to love it myself. We don’t just throw away a lovely delphinium that can’t be cultivated. We always try to find another way it can be grown.”
Out in the field
The plants are in the greenhouse and in the open air: partly in the Netherlands (Noordwijkerhout) and partly in Portugal (so that Nico can supply good quality delphiniums during the winter months). Nico happily walks around the field on a warm summer evening. “Then I can quietly take a look: is the crop in good condition, is the support netting high enough? If there are 10 men ready to cut the delphiniums in the morning, then I can take a moment to admire them. Everything is moving, and you see flowers everywhere.”
“I am proud that our delphiniums were on display at Sint Pietersplein (St Peter’s Square) over Easter. They look great with their striking colour and height.” – Nico Wigchert
André Westendorp: “Happiness is a barrow of delphiniums” André and Dorien Westendorp’s delphinium nursery is in the Drente countryside. If you walk through the fields during harvest time – from June to November time – you will see a rich and varied colour palette: from the pink Delphinium Kissi ‘Lovely Pink’ to the intense ‘Jeans Blue’ blue. “We let the delphiniums develop their colour in the ground. This makes the flowers more beautiful. And they are completely open when they reach the vase”, says André.
In the night-time
André and Dorien do all the work at the nursery themselves: from weeding to gathering the flowers. In the middle of summer Dorien cuts the flowers – preferably at during the night! “At night-time the flowers are full of water which make the stems firm. There is a special atmosphere in the fields at night: bats skim over the land and you can often see stone martens; their eyes light up the field like headlights.” During harvest time André is busy with sorting and bunching. It always makes me happy to see a barrow of delphiniums ready to go. It gives me a real sense of pride to see!”
“Delphinium Kissi ‘Lovely Pink’ has a lovely colour and a good branch structure; the flowers can be a little bit separated from the stem” – André Westendorp