It is impossible to be around the floriculture industry for any length of time without running into the Dutch. They are everywhere. Hang around with growers all over the world or visit flower trade shows in America, Africa, Asia, or Europe and you will always hear some Dutch accent somewhere in the room. This is the industry of the Dutch which we have exported to the rest of the world.
The Netherlands got into business over 400 years ago. In those days the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the West India Company (WIC)dominated the world trade in spices, furs, sugar and coffee. Turkey was an important trading partner for the Dutch and flowers native to Turkey made their way to European gardeners through Turkish-Dutch trade routes.
In 1593 the first collection of tulip bulbs arrived in Holland. A sultan in Turkey gave some tulip bulbs to the Austrian Ambassador, which gave it to his friend and scientist Carlos Clusius. Soon after Carlos Clusius got the tulip bulbs Carlos became chairman of Hortus Botanicus in Leiden (see also) and so Holland had there first tulips flowering in 1594. The Dutch liked the tulip and soon after that started the tulip mania, wealthy Dutch merchants outbid each other at auctions to make a quick profit. At the peak of the tulip mania, tulip bulbs could be traded for for the price of a canal house. In early 1637 the Dutch tulip market crashed, the bidding of a pound of tulips stared at 1250 Guilders. No one bid. Despite of the crash of the market the Dutch keep on working with their flowers and keep on dominating the flower world until today. Even though cut flower growing has been moving out of Holland for over a century first to the United States and later to countries around the equator, the Dutch still export new varieties, growing techniques and greenhouse technology. The Dutch also own the most patents on flower varieties around the world and setting worldwide prices trough the auctions.
In 2001 Erik van Berkum joined the flower industry and dedicated all his working time to chrysanthemum breeding and sales, Erik has been doing this work untill November 2007. Erik van Berkum has sold all chrysanthemum varieties on a global scale, for which Erik has to travel ed at least 100 days a year. In those 7 years Erik van Berkum has visited 35 countries. If you are interested in his whole career have a look at the Curriculum of Erik van Berkum. You can also have a look at Eriks’ world map for the places he has visited during his life.