A Tulip Math Lesson

You may wonder, how do we do it? How is it that 6 million tulips are planted yearly in Holland, Michigan for Tulip Time.  Well, our friends at Windmill Island Gardens share a little piece of our secret!

Did you do the math? 55,000 tulip bulbs are planted on the Island in about 6 hours. That is approximately 153 tulip bulbs per minute and 2.5 bulbs per second! Amazing, right?

Special thanks to the City of Holland and Windmill Island Gardens for sharing this great video and helping us make Holland, MI one of the most beautiful places on earth! Until next time!

Tips and Tricks to Keeping Your Garden Safe


We only have 8 days left in October and planting season is coming to a dramatic close in Holland, MI. The trees are vibrant, the leaves are falling and the tulips are in their beds ready for a long snooze- if only the dear and squirrels would leave them alone!

Having a problem with certain critters visiting the garden is common, especially when planting tulip bulbs. Have no fear, we have found your guide to keeping garden free of fury visitors thanks to Dig.Drop.Done.com. 

Outsmarting the Squirrels: Tips for a Critter-Free Garden

“WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., November 1, 2012 – Want a gorgeous garden of spring blooms but concerned that squirrels, deer and other pests might ruin the plan? Follow these suggestions to keep prying paws and hooves at bay.

Offend their Senses

  • Smartest bulb choice – daffodils and other narcissi. Squirrels and deer generally don’t like their taste. You can also plant them as a border surrounding other precious bulbs you’d like to protect.
  • Squirrels and deer can’t stand the skunky gym socks smell of Fritillaria imperialis bulbs. Interplant these tall, dramatic flowers to ward them off and protect your other bulbs.
  • Other types of fall bulbs that are considered deer resistant are: alliums, camassia and chionodoxa. Most packages will identify if the bulb is deer resistant as well.
  • Deer don’t like thorny things. They also don’t eat anemones, astilbes, junipers, foxgloves, ferns and grasses, to name a few. So you could effectively cordon off your garden by planting some of these suggestions.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Clean-Up Duty

  • Once you are done planting, clean up the garden area. Remove any mulch, planting tools and bulb debris. Squirrels and other pests have a nose for those clues, which will lead them right to a meal. (If using mulch, do not apply too early, as this could attract them. Apply after the soil freezes hard in a thin layer.

Full Metal Jacket

  • Place mesh, wire or metal barriers at least 12 inches high around your flower bulb garden. This will keep them from entering the garden area from the top. Bury the bottom edge six to 10 inches to prevent them from digging beneath the barrier.

We hope these tips and tricks will help you keep the fury critters in your neighborhood out of the garden. To learn more about bulbs visit http://www.digdropdone.com for a variety of information. We’ve got one last tip for planting that comes right from the kitchen! Rumor has it that sprinkling cayenne pepper on the bulbs before you plant them helps repel crafty critters. This may just be an old Holland myth but anything helps, right??

Tulip Time Bloom Time- Prolonging the Magic!

This week we are excited to have Stacy Hirvela of Proven Winners Color Choice Shrubs discuss which types of tulips to plant for a lasting presence in your garden. Join us during Tulip Time 2015 to hear Stacey speak as one of our featured garden expert. CLICK HERE to learn more about Stacey’s Tulip Time appearance and ticket sales.

“It’s tempting to select tulips for your yard based on color alone. After all, it’s those saturated, box-of-crayons hues that draw us to tulips in the first place. But you’ll enjoy your investment a lot more if you choose varieties based on their bloom time rather than simply their color. With just a bit of research and careful shopping, you can enjoy 6-8 weeks of non-stop blooms. Here’s how!

Most people don’t know that tulips are divided into 15 internationally-recognized classes based on their flower form and bloom time:

Early season bloom: Single Early, Double Early (these refer to the number of petals), Greigii (this is the type that often has ornamental striped foliage), Kaufmanniana (very short, with splotched foliage), Fosteriana (with narrow, elegant flowers), and species tulips (these are the same tulips that are found in the wild in Central Europe).

Mid-season bloom: Darwin Hybrid (tall with a classic flower farm), Triumph (medium height with saturated colors), Parrot (with twisted, fringed petals for a very showy and unusual effect).

Late season bloom: Single Late, Double Late, Viridiflora (prominent green ribs on petals), Lily-Flowered (elegantly proportioned with pointed petals that curve outward), Fringed (neat and tidy, with pretty little fringes around the edges of the petals), and Rembrandt (similar to the famous “broken color” tulips that caused Tulipmania in the Netherlands in the 1630s).

Armed with the knowledge of these 15 distinct types, you can easily orchestrate a dynamic display that lasts much longer than it would if you chose by color alone: just pick your color scheme and then select a few varieties from early, mid, and late season bloom periods. Most garden centers create eye-catching displays based on color alone without acknowledging the various bloom times, so you may have to do a bit of careful reading – whether the bloom period is indicated on the package depends on which company packed them. If you prefer to shop online, the task is a bit more straightforward: websites usually organize their selection by classification and bloom time.

Let’s say I wanted to create a classic red and yellow display. I might start out with ‘Red Riding Hood’ a Greigii tulip with nifty purple markings on its gorgeous blue foliage, and mix in the fabulous ‘Monsella,’ a yellow double early with red breaks for some height and depth. Here in Michigan, these would probably start about mid-April, though tulip emergence is heavily tied to the weather, so exact timing would vary. As those open and begin to peak, the mid-season bright yellow ‘Conqueror’ and vivid red ‘Oxford’ would start showing color, bringing classic color and shape to the display. I might not be able to resist adding ‘Princess Irene’ (also known as ‘Prinses Irene’, its Dutch name) to the mix, because this timeless orange and red variety is delightfully fragrant. Finally, as the last petals fall from the early bloomers, the late season varieties arrive to perk things up. I’d definitely get some yellow ‘Maja,’ since fringed tulips are among my favorites and some ‘Sky High Scarlet’ for its straight, strong, tall stems and pure red flowers. I would simply have to include one of the later-flowering Parrots, like ‘Texas Flame,’ ‘Parrot King,’ or, if I wanted to be really crazy, the flamboyant ‘Red Bright Parrot,’ with its splotches of purple and yellow on the bright red petals. Might as well end tulip season with a bang, right?!”

All photos courtesy of Longfield Gardens: http://www.longfield-gardens.com/ 


A piece of the Old Country…

This week, Vickie Morgan, Windmill Island Horticulturist, shares with us the process of how over 100,000 tulip bulbs will be planted at Windmill Island Gardens!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“The Netherlands is the world’s leading producer of tulips. About 93 percent of all bulbs in the world come from the Netherlands. There are over 52,000 acres of bulbs. Three billion tulips are produced annually which, if planted four inches apart, would circle the globe at the equator seven times!

At Windmill Island Gardens we can’t make such claims but we can follow suit in true Dutch fashion and plant a glorious field of tulips reminiscent of the vast fields in northern Holland. Our tulips have arrived from the Netherlands and we are awaiting the Customs inspection to release the tulips. We expect to start planting perhaps as soon as the week of October 6th!

Our field is approximately 5/8 of an acre. We plant about 24 rows with alternating colors and varieties. Almost 60,000 tulips will go into the field representing about 15 of the 55 varieties of tulips we have ordered.

Our custom-designed tulip planter was developed by Howie Poll of Holland Transplanter Company. Pulled behind a tractor, it has 3 seats, 3 racks for tulip crates, and 6 rotating wheels. The machine cuts 6 furrows at a time, so each tulip tosser must load two wheels at a time. Superb eye/hand coordination is required to keep up with the rotating wheels that are divided into six sections like a pie. We grab handfuls of bulbs and drop them into each section (remember, with both your left and right hands going at the same time) as the wheel rotates around to a hole beneath and drops a bulb down into the furrow. If you fall behind, you leave blank spots in your row. Last year I had nightmares about finding big open spots in the field in spring!

It takes about a day and a half to get the entire field planted. Stacks of crates are staged on the east side of the field, organized by row number. Besides the tractor driver and the 3 tulip throwers, there is another person standing on a large iron bar that drags along behind the planter to smooth the dirt back into the furrows. And lastly, a “runner” who will make sure our tulip bins don’t run out. 

60,000 bulbs planted. That only leaves 46,000 more to go! And those get planted by hand – one at a time by our troop of gardeners and loyal volunteers. If you would like to experience tulip planting first-hand, we can always use extra helpers. To volunteer, call us at 616-355-1032.”

Setting Goals and Movin’ Forward


Now that we are only 3 days out MVP Fitness Trainer, Matt Kaminski, is giving advice on continuing your running journey! After all, crossing the finish line is the sweetest victory!

Matt Kaminski, NSCA-CPT Fitness Trainer, MVP Athletic Club

Matt Kaminski, NSCA-CPT
Fitness Trainer, MVP Athletic Club

Setting a goal to run any race from a 5K, (3.1 miles) all the way up to a marathon (26.2 miles) can be very difficult to visualize how to train, especially for those who are planning a race for the first time. The first step is to commit not only mentally, but also physically by signing up for the race so that you have made a mental and financial promise to yourself.  This can help someone motivate themselves through the training process.  Once mentally and physically committed, you’ll need to create a reasonable training program.

Building stamina and endurance is like building a house – you need to start by building your foundation, constructing your frame, putting the roof on, and finally fine tuning the house with the special touches that make a house a home.

            When it comes to building your foundation you must find your individual bottom line. In other words, start with what you know you can do. This may be an honest conversation you have with yourself to truly admit where your ability is, and by no means does this mean that if you have no real experience running that you can’t run the race you desire. This is simply motivation for you to set out to do something you’ve never done before, even if it may intimidate you.

This is where you’ll need to do research. There are many “Couch to 5K programs” programs, some reliable and some not-so-much to get you on the road. You’ll need to find one that works for you and you may want consult a certified professional about the subject.

Your program is your framework and should be constructed around your parameters and skill levels, such as your beginning ability, previous injuries, amount of time to train, and other aspects. Once you have your plan set up, the next step is to start training. This is where it’s up to you and your support system to keep true to your training and stick to the program designed for you. Following your program correctly, and hopefully without injury, you will be on your way to reaching that goal.