Following the final day of planting on a cold Thursday in January, Poston Gardens is all set to host a tulip festival featuring over 50 varieties of the flower.
And it took two Holland natives to assure the one million and one bulbs were planted correctly and promptly.
Just before placing the final couple thousand of bulbs into the Waxahachie soil, the two Dutchmen who spearheaded the project took a little time out of their busy work to reflect on the months that led up to the day of completion. The two were pressed for time as the following day called for rain.
Thijs Van Zaal stood near the entrance of Poston Gardens and explained he is a self-employed tulip expert from Holland. The native Dutchman shared that he has been involved with several tulip farms and served as the brains of the Poston Gardens development.
“The Daymark people, that was my thrive," Van Zaal explained while he kept warm in a Daymark Living jacket. “John [Poston] is a promoter of that with his situation with Michael living there, and that’s why I’m into this project. I adopt his plan, and I’m willing to spend some time to get the job done, that’s the reason [I’m here].”
John Poston, the founder of Daymark Living, which serves as a residential community specifically built and staffed for people with Intellectual and Developmental Delays, shared that Van Zaal helped out with the project for free because “he liked the mission behind it, creating opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to better their lives.”
Poston continued, “And, then he also wanted to see it done right because he knew I didn’t know anything about tulips and planting tulip bulbs. No one knew it better than he did and he wanted it done right so that it reflected well on what we were doing but for Holland and the tulip industry as a whole.”
Van Zaal shared that he first met Poston and saw the land after he and a friend made a trip down Route 66 in October. It was then that he reached out to Poston, who had already purchased planting equipment from him. Van Zaal wanted to help install the planter and visualize the fields that would contain one million and one tulips. Poston flew the Dutchman from New Mexico to Dallas, and Van Zaal had his first examination of the land that stands on the corner of Interstate-35E and Cantrell Street.
“This is a challenge. That was my first thought,” Van Zaal said. “And this is going to need a lot of improvising and good people here, local people with equipment to help me because I can’t do that.”
After a two-day visit, Van Zaal returned home and continued communication via telephone with a Waxahachie farmer to devise a game plan and timeline to plant the tulips.
That Waxahachie man, Luke Tamminga, just so happened to also to be born in Holland and spent the first 10 years of his life as a dairy farmer. The Tamminga family moved to Waxahachie in 1984 and Tamminga went on to graduate from Waxahachie High School in 1992 and Texas A&M University in 1996.
Tamminga worked as a dairy farmer until 2013 and has since dedicated his time to operate a 3,000-acre farm in Five Points where he grows corn, wheat, soybeans and whatever else is in season.
“John got a hold of me through various friends and the tulip business," Tamminga explained. “And since I’m a Dutch farmer and it’s a cultural tulip situation, I got asked to help out.”
Throughout October, Tamminga shaped the land to make it seedbed ready by the time Van Zaal returned, and the farming could begin. A total of 10 acres of grass was killed, and then the project halted for six weeks to ensure the grass had all died off. After that, Tamminga brought in larger equipment such as a plow and vertical till machine. A plow turned the ground 18 inches deep and completely upside down to eliminate any weeds to ensure the soil was fertile so the bulbs could be planted in November.
Tamminga knew the land was ready by looking at “the texture and moisture of the dirt. We have experience with that, and we know that it will flow through the equipment to plant. When it’s too wet, we can see and know, but that comes with experience when you farm.”
The two Dutchmen grunted about the unexpected wet season with several days of rain. The downpours provided new challenges for the duo, which set them back timewise and forced the men to rework a few steps.
Tamminga noted that he had to work the land three different times due to the weather.
“A tulip is not a native to Texas,” Tamminga emphasized. “The weather climate here is not adequate for tulips.”
“The issue here is that you have to plant late, because in Holland the bulbs get a cooling in the ground,” Van Zaal elaborated. “A tulip needs 14 weeks of cooling, and you don’t get it here in Texas because of the harsh situation with the sun.”
Tamminga handed over a bulb to sense the chilliness. The bulbs had been cooled at ABBOTT-IPCO in Dallas before transported to Poston Gardens. Van Zaal pointed out the roots that stuck out of the bulb and noted its flatness, which revealed it was ready to be planted. He explained as soon as it touched water, a root will shoot out.
Van Zaal came back to Waxahachie on Dec. 14 and flew back to Holland on Christmas Eve. The days in between, he and Tamminga planted around 800,000 bulbs. After New Year’s Eve the circumstances of the land hand not gotten any better, and maybe even worse.
The challenges did not impede the garden's development.
On Jan. 17, over 200,000 bulbs were planted on the final day of work.
“To get a million and one bulbs in the ground, we don’t have that exact total acreage anymore, so what we’ve done is — we are probably pushing eight acres now,” Tamminga explained. “We have thickened up the population of the bulbs in the ground per foot. So we have a couple extra bulbs per foot from what our actual plan was. But, we have to do what we have to do.”
“We got to get them in today," Tamminga stressed. "We have to get it done."
Tamminga operated a tractor that pulled the panting machine, which dropped bulbs from a conveyer belt into the ground and metal, circular panels packed the soil once the bulbs were placed. Van Zaal rode on the back of the planter to ensure the machine operated correctly. The two spoke to each other in their native tongue and successfully planted 50 varieties of tulips, which translated to a million and one bulbs.
“I will say, Thijs and I make a great team and him being Dutch, I’m being original Dutch,” Tamminga said. “My roots come out of me again, and we have a good time. If it’s just the two of us, we speak pure Dutch.”
POSTON GARDEN OPENS
The 60-acre Poston Gardens is officially set to open on March 1. At the destination, patrons will be allowed to pick and pay for tulips. The garden will also benefit the lives of Daymark Living residents who live with intellectual and developmental delays.
The first-ever event, Tulipalooza, will serve as a chef-showcase and will feature 10 Dallas and 10 Waxahachie restaurants on March 30. There will be 20 restaurant tents, and a dessert tent for chefs to provide samples of signatures dishes. A wine and beer tent will be available as well. The chef showcase will occur from noon to 3 p.m., and a country artist will play a concert from 2—4 p.m.
Poston gave an extensive thank you all the individuals that played a role in the establishment of Poston Gardens.
He started with Brett Hess, the real estate broker who sold him the land for Daymark Living and Poston Gardens. Poston credited Hess to acquainting him with Waxahachie and meeting the Tamminga family. The Tamminga family not only provided the means to plant the bulbs but also the relationship with Bill Van Houten, who founded ABBOTT-IPCO (where the bulbs were cooled in Dallas).
Poston shared he is grateful to have met Van Houten who put him in touch with a purchasing agent employed by ABBOTT-IPCO, Aad Batenburg, the Dutchman who supplied all a million-and-one bulbs. Batenburg was responsible for the introduction between Poston and Van Zaal, who was the brains behind the planting of all the bulbs.
Follow Poston Gardens on Facebook, Instagram and online at https://postongardens.com/
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450