2,000 km of ditches and elongated 15-m wide islands had already been created in Boskoop as early as the Middle Ages. Thanks to the rich peaty soil, these fields were ideal for growing fruit and trees. I’m driving to my appointment on a sunny day, and enjoying all the water, hundreds of bridges and characteristic islands, with tree nurseries all around me. Boskoop breathes floricultural history, and the nursery I’m visiting makes a great chapter all by itself. Pieter Heemskerk is on hand to greet me.

Can you tell us a little about Salm Boskoop nursery?
Brothers Hans and Paul van der Salm started their own tree nursery on a small piece of land 30 years ago. The core values are energy, inventiveness, decisiveness, and society. A larger piece of land then became available, which gave free rein to the brothers’ pioneering spirit. First think carefully, and then do it properly: that was the key to creating a healthy, modern company.

On 3 May 2007, Hans van der Salm died in a traffic accident, a tragic day for the family and the company. It’s partly due to his dedication, vision and personality that Salm Boskoop has grown into the fantastic company it is today, and of which all employees are proud. I have the deepest respect for the way Paul was able to continue. There is a great deal of mutual connection, and we can enjoy the successes that we have as a company, both on a commercial level and in terms of doing business in a social and eco-friendly way.

Can you tell us about your crops?
We concentrate on growing Lavender, Boxwood, Gaultheria, Picea conica, Pinus pinea, Ilex crenata and decofruit. We are the only grower that grows the famous Lavandula st. “Anouk”, the best crested lavender on the market. The Lavandula ang. ‘Felice’ is another in-house variety that only we market. The Gaultheria ‘Big Berry’ is a very resilient species, unusual in that the berries are on the leaves and are not hidden between them. We grow our Buxus, Ilex and Picea in the open soil. Thanks to the peaty soil and high groundwater level, the plants can develop an excellent nice root system without taproot, so it’s easy to pot the plants, and they have a very long shelf life. This soil is much lighter than clay or sandy soil, so another benefit is that it’s easy for the consumer to lift.

Salm BoskoopSalm Boskoop has several fields in various parts of Boskoop. We go for a drive to see them all, as Pieter talks about the nature in this area.
We are proud of our beautiful environment, and treat it with care. We rotate crops to keep the soil fertile. After removing the boxwoods, we plant Tagetes (marigolds), that have the amazing property of cleansing the soil of harmful nematodes, before planting a different crop.
Using Tagetes is a traditional method, unlike the hypermodern laser technology used to plant the plants as straight as an arrow and prune them to the desired shape. Another good example of our motto: when we do something, we do it properly.

Why should garden centres choose your products?
For the outside world, the name Salm Boskoop is all we have. Quality is always the priority. Only quality products leave our company, so even if demand is high and the trade wants plants that aren’t quite ready, they have to wait. A garden centre which purchases our plants can rely on resilient varieties with excellent, uniform quality. We’re the place to turn to for people who believe in the importance of cultivating plants with respect for nature!

How do you get on with Javado?
Javado has been our customer right from the outset. We know Javado well, and take into account the annual growth in sales. That means, for example, that if we’re part of a big promotion for someone else, this is never at the expense of day trading with Javado.

How do you see the future?
Online sales are growing enormously, of course, but I still think seeing, smelling and feeling plants is so important that consumers would rather go to a garden centre.  A garden centre also helps the customer make decisions which they cannot reach online.

As for the future of our company, we’re going to start growing Taxus in the open soil, and we’ve developed a special new lavender: Lavandula ang. ‘Felice Premium Provence’. The plants are incredibly pure, and characterised by their early flowering.

Published on: 3 Setembro 2019