Tag Archives: Klazina Dobbe

Mother Nature gets a helping hand

Holland America Bulb FarmBy Pat Nelson
January 16, 2008
Reprinted with permission, South County News/The Daily News, Longview, WA

Rain-soaked rows stretch across the 125 acres of fertile farmland at the Holland America Bulb Farm at 1066 South Pekin Rd. in Woodland. It’s hard to image now, looking at the brown rows glistening in the sunlight after a morning shower, that in just 2 ½ months a wide rainbow of vibrant tulips will stand proudly above the soil, impressing thousands of visitors at the annual tulip festival.  

The town of Woodland will be decked out too, because the farm donates around 700 pots of stunning spring flowers to decorate the city. Four hundred of those will be the Woodland tulip, the hybridized variety that, thanks to the efforts of Holland America owner Benno Dobbe, was named for the town in 2005. The Woodland tulip is a cross between the deep pink Don Quichotte tulip and Prominence, a red variety.

To guarantee tulips for the festival, the Dobbes give mother nature a hand. According to warehouse manager Ernst Terhorst, bulbs are planted November through January and then are forced so that they will bloom at the desired time. “We create the climate to fool the bulb,” he said. “We put the bulbs in a cooling unit because they need winter. Depending on the type of bulb, they cool for four to eight weeks.”

Refrigerating bulbs persuades the tulips to flower earlier. “We adjust the temperature of the cooling rooms as needed,” said Terhorst. “With flowers, you can’t read out of a book. You have to have it in your fingers…you have to communicate with them.”

Terhorst, along with the Dobbe’s daughter Nicolette Wakefield, who operates the facility’s Royal Dutch Flower Gardens Gift Shop, took me on a tour of the operation. In one of many large coolers, I saw tall stacks of plastic bins filled with already-potted spring bulbs including tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, iris, and others. Some had sprouted, and I could see the tiny hair-like roots poking out the bottoms of pots.

According to Wakefield, “besides the bulbs grown to decorate the downtown, 5000 bulbs are being planted in pots for the Tulip Festival. Some will decorate the display garden and the rest are being grown to sell at the festival.”

Terhorst and Wakefield next showed me the potting area, where three employees pot the bulbs. One places peat moss in the bottom of the pot. The next plants the bulbs. A third adds sand, which is heavy and holds the bulbs in place, while providing good drainage.

The Holland America Bulb Farm sells cut flower from September through Mother’s Day. Both bulbs and cut flowers are sold nationwide.

The cut flower operation involves an assembly line to de-bulb and package the flowers. First, a machine cuts a small portion off the bottom of the bulb. That allows it to be crushed, releasing the portion of the stem that was inside the bulb, and leaving a longer flower stem. Ten stems are packaged in a bunch; then they are banded, sleeved in plastic, and placed in water before being boxed and shipped. The bulbs that are cut away are composted. According to Nicolette Wakefield, “Nothing is wasted.”

The farm employs thirty now, and will employ 150 in the spring.

I was shown a cooler where lily bulbs are frozen and stored for up to a year at a precise temperature. “The temperature can’t be off even a couple tenths of a degree,” said Terhorst. “The bulbs contain their own type of antifreeze to keep them from being damaged by freezing.”

During the April festival, Holland America owners Benno and Klazina Dobbe turn their front yard into a display garden, where visitors can stroll along the paths, admire the tulips, and mark their favorite varieties on an order form for October pick-up.

Today, it might look like nothing’s going on in the 125 acres of fields, but don’t be fooled. Beneath that rich soil, bulbs are getting ready to put on a spectacular April show.


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Filed under flower bulbs, gardening, plants, South County News, Woodland

Writers are for Real

Writers at conference©South County News/The Daily News

Sure, Woodland’s a small town, but that doesn’t mean you won’t bump into a writer. When my husband and I were out to dinner one night with friends, a man and woman approached the table and started visiting with us. The woman turned out to be Pam Young, author (along with her sister Peggy Jones) of many books including Sidetracked Home Executives™: From Pigpen to Paradise; Get Your Act Together; Sidetracked Sisters Happiness File; Sidetracked Sisters Catch Up on the Kitchen; The Phony Gourmet; and I’m Okay…but you have a Lot of Work to Do.” The sisters have experienced every writer’s dream by appearing on Oprah as well as CBS Morning News, Today, and other popular shows. They have probably written more books than these, but the long list was enough to make me want to rip up my writer business cards and hide in a dark room; I felt I had wasted too many years and left too many words unwritten.

That’s one thing about a lot of us writers…it doesn’t take much for us to feel unworthy of the title, just because someone else has been in the business longer or published more work. In 2006, I took online writing courses from Eva Shaw at www.ed2go.com (which, by the way, you can enroll in at our Woodland branch of Lower Columbia College). I was so impressed with Shaw’s teaching that I attended the 2006 Cape Cod Writers Conference in Osterville, Massachusetts, where she presented workshops.  Thrilled to meet Shaw, but feeling insecure, I said to her, “I feel like a pretend writer.”

Eva Shaw, who has published more than seventy books and 1000 magazine articles, replied, “We all feel like pretend writers.”

That was a turning point for me. That’s when I had my business cards printed; I started wearing an “author in progress” t-shirt; I presented a Write the Stories of Your Life workshop to Woodland’s Red Hat Tamales; I helped inspire young writers in my granddaughter’s first-grade class; I started submitting work.

Once I started feeling like a writer, things started happening. I began writing this weekly column; my stories about Woodland began to be posted on www.lewisriver.com; my story Indian Summer appeared in the just-released book Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause; I attended the Whidbey Island Writers Conference and the Willamette Writers Conference; I got to know other writers, and I took more classes; I started thinking about reprinting the book I published thirty years ago.

In August, I attended the Willamette Writers Conference with Klazina Dobb, a Woodland acupuncturist. At the Lelooska Foundation fundraiser last spring, I purchased a gift certificate for a massage at Klazina’s clinic. When I met Klazina and I told her I would soon be going to a writer’s conference, she said, “I ‘m glad you’re here. I want to write a book, but I’m not sure how to get started.”

Klazina and I attended the conference together and enjoyed sharing mealtimes with other writers, agents, and publishers. At the closing banquet, we shared a table with Kristina McMorris of Portland, who was presented the first place Kay Snow Writing Contest award in the Adult Fiction category for her novel Between the Lines. Through meeting Kristina McMorris and other published authors, we learned more about the business of writing, and we made new contacts.

At that conference, both Klazina and I took a writing workshop taught by Julie Fast, best-selling author of Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. We enrolled in her Proposal Writing course through Portland Community College, where we learned that nonfiction writers must first write a proposal to find out if an agent is interested before writing the book. Klazina is working on her proposal for a book about healing for health-care workers; I am working on my proposal for a book about a tuberculosis sanatorium where my family once lived and worked, and today’s re-emerging tuberculosis.

I’ve read about Woodland author Alan Rose’s book The Legacy of Emily Hargrove.  Woodland resident Suzanne Taylor Moore Faveluke recently sent an email containing verses she wrote a number of years ago for greeting card companies, and in 1974, she published a book called Coffee. While interviewing Jill Yates at the Lower Columbia College Woodland campus, I found out Jill has written Tales of a Teacup and Coffee Lovers Bible. I’m sure there are many other writers in Woodland whom I haven’t yet met.

I picked up a flyer at the college on the Write Your Life Story class held each Wednesday at the Presbyterian Church, which is led by Carmen Web. The class is currently full, but another session starts January 9.

There are many writers in Woodland: some are published, some would like to be published, and some just want to write. We all have something in common…the drive to put words on paper. Everyone has a story to tell, and no one who writes is a pretend writer.

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Filed under books, South County News, Woodland, writing