``The Flower People``
The name Zwetsloot has been associated with the British flower industry – since 1932 – and gained an International reputation for both quality and excellence.
Dutchman, Cornelius Zwetsloot, arrived in England in 1932 and soon established a small, but successful, bulb growing company in Sandy, Bedfordshire. He forced tulip bulbs under glass in the winter and returned to Holland to work on his nursery there during the ‘summer growing season’.
Cornelius was unable to return to Holland when war broke out in 1939. His eight children were raised single-handedly by his wife, Everdina Bosman, in Holland.
During the war years he developed his business further, but times were hard and Cornelius turned his nursery over to vegetable growing to fight the enemy in a positive way. In January of 1946 he sailed to Holland where he was finally reunited with his family after almost 8 long years apart.
Cornelius sold his Dutch business and, after much negotiation, the Zwetsloot family came over to England to settle.
Flower crops and market gardening were both a source of business until 1948, when the nursery began to specialise increasingly in floriculture as opposed to horticulture.
Cornelius involved all of his six sons in the business, each adopting a different role within the company – specializing in different fields – to create a dynamic and knowledgeable team. They became one of the largest growers and distributors of cut flowers, pot plants and florist sundries in the United Kingdom.
By the 1960’s Zwetsloots owned two large flower nurseries – and in 1970 a depot in Yorkshire was added to aid distribution in the more northern parts of the country.
Greenhouses were constructed forming an expanse of some 15 acres of glass, under which over 3 million stems of roses were produced each year – together with crops of Carnations, Freesia, Poinsettia, Pot Chrysanthemums and many other varieties of flower.
Outdoor production was also highly successful, with 40 acres of land producing crops such as Statice, Peonies, Alstromeria, Scabious and Sweet William – to name but a few.
In 1973 – oil prices started to increase dramatically – forcing many competitors to go out of business. Zwetsloots needed to radically change the way in which the greenhouses were heated. A revolutionary new German system was installed – using wood chips to generate heat. A local kitchen company sold ‘off-cuts’ of wood to Zwetsloots – the arrangement suited them both very well.
This change however, also forced Zwetsloots to reconsider their methods of production – and in order to extend the varieties of flowers available – they imported exotic flowers and plants from fourteen countries worldwide, which greatly added to their diversity.
The company continued to expand, incorporating large production lines, necessary for supplying major supermarkets with bunched flowers. The business was eventually sold by the third generation – with a Kenyan based business ‘Flamingo Holdings’ taking over the reins, and since then being taken over by Finalays. It continues to be known for excellence and quality and long may this continue…..