Woodland Tulip Festival News

Newly Hybridized Tulip to be Christened "Woodland"

Newly Hybridized Tulip to be Christened "Woodland"

By Gloria Loughry
© The Lewis River Review
Woodland, WA, USA

Woodland Tulip

Tulip to be formally Christened at Woodland's Tulip Festival

Woodland, WA will be "put on the map" for all the tulip-loving world to see when April 16, 2005 a new tulip—a deep red/pink beauty—will be presented to the world and christened "Woodland", after the city of Woodland during ceremonies slated for the second weekend in Woodland's Tulip Festival. The adventure began in February 2004, when Mr. Dobbe was visiting the Nord Lommerse Flower Bulb Group Holland, discussing a purchase of hyacinths with Siem de Wit and brothers Wim and Jan Prins, owners of the exclusive rights to the new, unnamed tulip. They had the tulip growing in a group in a pot on the table and Mr. Dobbe spotted the color and knew he had not seen before. He mentioned it to them and they asked him how he knew it was a new variety. "I told them I didn't know it was new." related Dobbe. "But it looked a really deep pink, reddish color which proves it's a mix of a red and deep pink in the hybridization. It was a nice length, good, well-formed flower, nice leaves, good stem… an all around very good quality tulip as judged from my initial sight of it. And they told me it did not yet have a name."

Mr. Dobbe returned to the United States but went back again in May (still 2004) on business. He paid a visit to a big display garden full of tulips and other flowers with his brother Hugo and as he was walking through, looking at the flowers, he turned to his brother and said "I have the name for that tulip! I'm going to go call Wim Prins right away."

He called the tulip owners and told them "I think I have a really good name." But the owners backpedaled a little: they had people from Scandinavia very interested in the tulip—especially from Finland—who were so interested in it they wanted to name it, too. But Benno had beat the Scandinavians to it. He already had a name and, technically, naming the flower had been presented to him first. Also, Mr. Dobbe is considered highly in the industry, so the honor of naming the tulip was awarded to him. A screening process proved the name had not been selected before, so the exciting news was imparted to Mr. Dobbe: the tulip would be named "Woodland".

The Christening of a Tulip

Like a newly crafted ship, the tulip will be christened in a ceremony which, of course, involves champagne! Mayor Doug Monge will be present for the conferring of the blessings, and will be joined by the brother of Wim and Jan Prins (two of the owners of the tulip, residing in the Netherlands), Kees Prins, who will represent them here in the States. Mr. Kees Prins lives in the Port Townsend (WA) area. It's a strong possibility that one of the other owners (of the tulip), Erik Lommerse of the company the Nord Lommerse Flower Bulb Group Holland, will come all the way from the Netherlands to be present for the ceremonies, too. And locally, Don Fullerton and Jodi Arends of the radio show "BICOASTAL Media" (based in Longview) will be promoting the Tulip Festival to everyone within broadcast distance.

Woodland Tulip

Tulip to be presented in Netherlands, too

The tulip will be presented to the world industry in March 2005, prior to Woodland's own christening at Benno Dobbe's farm, at the very famous Lentetuin (pronounced "len-ta-tawn) (Spring Garden) bulb show held in Benno Dobbe's home city of Breezand (pronounced "bray-zan[d]") in the Netherlands. But it can only be sold as a numbered item—it still won't have the official name. Only after the tulip has been christened and presented on April 16th in Woodland, WA can it then be officially sold under the name "Woodland".

At the Lentetuin bulb show, growers, traders, and anyone else involved in the flower bulb industry or those who just love flowers tour an indoor presentation of the latest and most beautiful flowers to date. The Woodland tulip will be easily remembered as being part of the Lentetuin 25th Anniversary Celebration show because an additional honor will be bestowed on the show as Her Royal Highness Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands will lead the opening ceremonies and celebrations. The entire municipality of Anna Paulowna will be honored, too, by Her Majesty, for the commemoration of a statue of Queen Anna Paulowna, for whom the municipality is named, representing the memory of the Queen who married into the royal family of Csarist Russia.

Breezand is located in the heart of the famous "Zuiderzeewerken" where a system of dikes and pumping stations holds back the North Sea, providing millions of acres of land for growing, amongst other things, bulbs and flowers - those which make the Netherlands justifiably famous. The municipality of Anna Paulowna (located in the province of Noord Holland) houses several cities, one of which is Breezand (see map below). (Breezand relates to Anna Paulowna in much the same way Hazeldell relates to Vancouver or Vancouver to Portland.) The IJsselmeer (IJssel Lake, fed by the river IJssel) provides the major portion of the fresh water for this area. The landscape bursts into color in the spring when field after field comes into bloom from the bulbs lying dormant all winter. Placed amongst the picturesque windmills the country is known for, it's easy to find a stunning view of the vibrant colorful flowers everyone loves.

Woodland Tulip

"There are over 2,000 bulb growers in the Netherlands," said Dobbe, "and there are at least 10,000 flower growers there, too. The shows are mostly designed for people in the industry to show off their products for beauty, hardiness, and suitability. The indoor show at Breezand is the most famous in the flower bulb industry, second only to the world famous outdoor gardens at Keukenhof near Amsterdam. It's very exciting to have the new tulip presented to the industry at the 25th Anniversary event."

The presentation of the "Woodland" tulip in Woodland is an exciting event for bulb and flower industry members world wide, too. "They love the idea of what we are doing (presenting the new tulip in Woodland at the Tulip Festival)" says Benno Dobbe. "Because we are showing it to potential customers, to people who will enjoy it."

Hybridization Produces New Varieties

The "Woodland" tulip is a cross between the tulip varieties "Don Quichotte" (deep pink) and "Prominence" (red). The name of the company which hybridized this tulip is Tulip Flower Metzlawier which is based in the Netherlands. The Nord Lommerse Flower Bulb Group Holland purchased the exclusive rights to the new "Woodland" tulip from this hybridizing company and will market the flower bulbs to those in the industry throughout the world. According to Mr. Dobbe, both the "Don Quichotte" and the "Prominence" flowers are strong, reliable, constant strains with excellent "blood" which does not dilute easily when hybridization occurs. The height, leaf pattern, and formation of the flower itself are all a result of this sterling pedigree, making the "Woodland" a very desirable flower to own.

"Woodland" (the Tulip) Grounded in History

On Tuesday, February 22nd, Mr. Dobbe was interviewed by Wim Ciggaar of the Bloembollen Visie ("Flower Bulb Magazine") a flower-bulb industry-specific magazine published every two weeks in the Netherlands and distributed world wide to anyone involved in the industry. They talked to him about the "Woodland" tulip and from it will come a story for their late April issue which the publisher will hold until after the official christening of the new tulip on April the 16th in Woodland.

"For me, to be honest, it's going to be quite nice that there will be a story written about not only the tulip, but also about Woodland (the city) and the reasons behind the name "Woodland" for the tulip. It's pretty neat to have that story printed in the environment where I grew up (Breezand; the Netherlands). Of course, over the years, especially in the beginning, they've had questions about why I left (the Netherlands) with my wife and three children and went to the United States. Now they see the results. They see how we've developed a new life and a new business in the United States that (came from) the Netherlands so they can be proud of it. And we have actually made a difference in the industry and that's quite nice… that we have added value to the flower and the bulb industry, not only for the United States, but also for the people in the Netherlands."

There's another connection, too. The 25th anniversary of the Lentetuin marks also the 25 years that the Dobbes have been here in the United States.

"My wife and I moved to Woodland, Washington and… started with our dreams and visions about the future. It turned out that we made a very good choice. Everything fell into place here for what I felt was going to be good for this area.

"It's kind of interesting (that) years ago, here in Woodland, was the biggest bulb grower in the world at that time, in the sixties: United Bulb Company. Everyone my age or older worked for United Bulb Company—they were a huge company. Another thing which is really interesting, in the 1930s and 1940s Doug Holman also grew tulips on the farm where we (Holland America Bulb Farms) today grows tulips and other flowers. And so there is a history with Woodland of tulips and bulb growing."

United Bulb Company still exists in Michigan, but management decisions at the plant in Woodland led to its closure.

"Interestingly, they (United Bulb Company) were more advanced in the 1950s and 1960s with their machinery and equipment than the bulb growers in the Netherlands, at the time, but not many in the Netherlands knew about them. So that is a nice background and history."

A glimpse into Benno's philosophies about life shows his positive bent. "I'm always optimistic about the future because I know there is always a future. You might not be able to get exactly where you want to be, but there's always a future. And I remember my father's father was talking about those people in the industry who said the sun was never going to come up any more. Now that was 80 years ago and it's still coming up. And there are still bulbs, there are still flowers so then I feel, okay, there will be a change in character, or sales techniques, or use, but there will always be flowers! You cannot think of this world without flowers. And I would like us to be a part of it."

And now, thanks to Benno Dobbe, Woodland will also be part of that flowering future with the new tulip christened "Woodland".


The new "Woodland" tulip is being specially prepared for the upcoming Tulip Festival. Pre-planted pots will be available for viewing in the display garden and for sale in the Royal Dutch Flower Gardens shop, so be sure to join everyone in April for the exciting event. For more information about the tulip, its availability, the Tulip Festival, or any other bulb or flower question, contact the Holland America Bulb Farms at 360-225-6575.

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