A royal ges­ture

Lo­cal com­pany matches gift of tulips by Dutch royal fam­ily dur­ing Sec­ond World War

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY MAU­REEN COUL­TER

Ev­ery year close to one mil­lion tulips are planted in Ot­tawa, a tra­di­tion started af­ter the Dutch royal fam­ily sent Canada 100,000 tulip bulbs in recog­ni­tion of Canada’s role in lib­er­at­ing the Nether­lands dur­ing the Sec­ond World War in 1945.

Seventy years later, a Prince Ed­ward Is­land com­pany is match­ing the do­na­tion and send­ing 100,000 tulip bulbs to 140 gar­dens across the coun­try.

Ve­seys is the big­gest tulip bulb com­pany in the coun­try, re­ceiv­ing mil­lions of bulbs an­nu­ally and with clients in ev­ery province in Canada and ev­ery state in the United States.

John Bar­rett, di­rec­tor of sales, mar­ket­ing and de­vel­op­ment at Ve­seys, said mak­ing this do­na­tion is a form of thanks to the Dutch peo­ple for their sup­port over the years, and to the Cana­dian peo­ple who have con­tin­ued to sup­port the Vessey busi­ness for 76 years.

“We are just very proud to do it,” said Bar­rett. “We just thought it was a fit­ting thing… We have very close ties with Hol­land.”

The 100,000 bulbs will go to 140 tulip gar­dens across the coun­try with each gar­den re­ceiv­ing 700 red and white tulips to rep­re­sent the colours of the Cana­dian flag.

They would have shipped red, white and blue for the Nether­lands flag but there are no blue tulips, laughs Bar­rett.

Ve­seys will also be do­nat­ing 7,000 red and white tulips to the Cana­dian Tulip Fes­ti­val in Ot­tawa.

Any com­mu­nity gar­den, town or in­sti­tu­tion that would like to ap­ply for this friend­ship tulip gar­den can do so by fill­ing out a form through the Cana­dian Gar­den Coun­cil at www.canada­gar­den­route.ca.

The gar­dens will be dis­trib­uted on a pro-rated pop­u­la­tion ba­sis so they are dis­trib­uted evenly, Bar­rett said.

“We are try­ing to en­cour­age peo­ple that dur­ing the plant­ing time this fall that they in­volve chil­dren and, if at all pos­si­ble, they might in­volve some vet­er­ans.”

Canada Post has also come on board by of­fer­ing to cover the costs to send these flower gar­dens across the coun­try.

“They loved the con­cept,” said Bar­rett. “They loved that it com­mem­o­rated the Dutch royal fam­ily and Canada’s in­volve­ment in the lib­er­a­tion.”

Bar­rett said this an­niver­sary is a spe­cial one, not­ing that by the time of the 80th or 90th an­niver­sary rolls around, there will prob­a­bly be no Sec­ond World War vet­er­ans left.

“Now is the time, while there are still peo­ple who can ac­tu­ally re­mem­ber the event.”

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

John Bar­rett, di­rec­tor of sales, mar­ket­ing and de­vel­op­ment at Ve­seys, says the com­pany is do­nat­ing 100,000 red and white tulip bulbs to 140 gar­dens around the coun­try to mark the 70th an­niver­sary of Canada’s role in lib­er­at­ing the Nether­lands dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Com­mu­nity gar­dens can ap­ply for the free bulbs through Cana­dian Gar­den Coun­cil at www.canada­gar­den­route.ca.

ST. AN­DREW’S PRES­BY­TE­RIAN CHURCH

Princess Ju­liana and Prince Bern­hard with their daugh­ters Beatrix and Mar­griet out­side St. An­drew’s Church in1943.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Cana­dian sol­diers in the Nether­lands dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

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