March 7, 2014

A Tulip Farm in Northern California

tulip farm
Photos and text by Jennifer.

John Bos is the son of immigrants who moved to California from The Netherlands in 1959.

Decades later, John was standing outside the family's Modesto dairy, admiring some tulips his mother had grown.

Then, John remembers, "My mom says, in her Dutch accent, 'Why don't you grow some and sell them for cut flowers?'"

And he did.

tulip farm

tulip farm

John started small, planting a couple hundred bulbs and sharing the flowers with family and friends.

Now, he plants 100,000 bulbs a year - imported from Holland - at his Modesto-based operation, Dutch Hollow Farms.

I had the chance to visit Dutch Hollow a few times recently on assignments for The Record newspaper and San Joaquin Lifestyles magazine.

What I didn't know about growing tulips is what an artisan's touch it demands: Throughout the short season, John has to carefully manage the sunlight - warm Valley winters can trick flowers into opening too soon, before their stems have had a chance to stretch.

There are easier flowers to grow and easier ways to grow them, but John believes Dutch Hollow's big, vibrant blooms owe to his hand-crafted approach.

tulip bouquets

John's flower stand is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And this weekend (March 7, 8 and 9), to celebrate the peak of the tulip season, Dutch Hollow Farms is hosting TulipMania, where visitors can pick their own tulips to plant at home or to trim into bouquets.

tulip farm

tulip bloom

You can read more about Dutch Hollow Farms in The Record or the next issue of San Joaquin Lifestyles.

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