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“Tulip King” Brought Bulb Business From Holland To South Carolina

Jack DeVroomen is known as the tulip king of South Carolina, a moniker based on his family’s long history in flowering bulbs. He is the fifth generation of DeVroomens in the flower-bulb business.
    One of DeVroomen’s favorite bulb varieties is “Jack’s Giant” elephant ear, a spectacular display plant from Costa Rica. It was named after DeVroomen by Tony Avent of Plant Delights, who initially propagated the plant in the U.S. Today Jack’s Giant produces leaves up to 2 by 4 ft. in size.<
    DeVroomen was born in Lisse, Holland, the flower-bulb capital of the world. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1978. In 1999 he, along with several Dutch partners, purchased the Marlboro Bulb Company in Greenwood, South Carolina. “Today, about the only bulb we don’t sell is a light bulb,” DeVroomen says.
    About 50 percent of Marlboro’s bulbs are imported from Holland and the rest are sourced from Costa Rica, Florida and elsewhere. Marlboro is strictly a catalog-order wholesaler and supplies bulbs to garden centers, landscapers, greenhouses, parks, arboretums, garden clubs and home gardeners. The company sells both fall and spring bulbs, including tulips, daffodils, caladium and elephant ears. The annual volume of bulbs sold is more than 100,000 tulips, 120,000 daffodils, 80,000 plus caladiums, and 50,000 plus elephant ears.
    Most bulbs arrive at the company in bulk crates and are repackaged for sale in point-of-purchase packages for garden centers and in small quantities for home gardeners.
    Even bulbs that don’t sell by mid-winter find a home, says DeVroomen. “My wife and I plant our one-acre home site to 30,000 bulbs. We’re able to do that because we add soil on top of bulbs placed in older beds each year. It makes for quite a spectacular display of color.”
    DeVroomen is proud to say that Keukenhof Gardens in Holland, which boasts more than 7 million bulbs and 800 varieties of tulips on 79 acres, was founded in part by DeVroomen’s grandfather. Keukenhof is described as “the world’s most beautiful spring garden,” attracting more than 1 million visitors over 8 weeks each spring.
    DeVroomen says two of the keys to operating a successful mail-order bulb company are having good suppliers and good customer service. “We’ve been building relationships with our suppliers for 40 years and it definitely pays off in high-quality bulbs and timely deliveries.” DeVroomen and his wife, Patricia, also do talks and presentations about bulb gardening.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jack DeVroomen, Hwy. 72/221 East, Greenwood, S.C., 29649 (ph 864-980-7871; www.marlborobulb.com).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #2