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Westland, Holland, home of NL van Geest Amaryllis, is ideally situated for growing premium-quality amaryllis bulbs. Located near the North Sea in the west of the Netherlands, the region enjoys cool, sunny summers and mild winters. This climate, combined with the area's light, sandy soil, creates ideal conditions for cultivating healthy bulbs ready to burst forth with the most exquisite blooms.
Ben van Geest's father started the company in 1957, and Ben has been working there since he was 17. Although it has grown into one of the world's largest amaryllis producers, it's still a family business. Ben and his brother Gerard are now the owners, and Ben's three daughters work in the greenhouses when they're not in school. (And his son, the youngest child, looks forward to the day when he can join them!) The company produces about one million bulbs annually, all grown in huge greenhouses that together cover a total of 10 acres.
While red is still the most popular color for these holiday blooms, amaryllis are now available in an astonishing array of colors, forms, and sizes. NL van Geest Amaryllis is highly respected in the industry for its plant-breeding program, which Ben oversees. In 1991 the company introduced the flame-red Ferrari variety, which has become a perennial bestseller. More recently, they introduced the Amadeus series, which includes the stunning Giant Amadeus — a statuesque beauty with double flowers featuring layers of frilled white petals with a rose-pink blush. The company has won many awards over the years in the prestigious Keukenhof Garden competitions, including three first prizes in 2017. They strive to introduce two new varieties every holiday season.
Ben's role at the company is now focused in sales, and he enjoys sharing his passion for the beautiful blooms with his customers. His passion for growing isn't confined to amaryllis, however. He also gardens at his seaside home, where he cultivates "sturdy plants" that can withstand the windy site — including his favorites, hydrangeas.
Last updated: 10/9/18
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