Pieter and Petra Koeman’s Texas Tulips farm entices visitors every spring
Immigrating to the United States to start their own tulip business might have been the Koemans’ best and most profitable idea yet. And they have the Ewing family from the TV show Dallas to thank for it.
The towering skyscrapers, dynamic theme music and the dramatic, often twisted plotline of the fictional feuding Texas oil family from the prime-time television soap opera are what ultimately encouraged the family to bring their 80-year-old family business and its unique concept from the Netherlands to Pilot Point, Texas, two years ago.
“That was the start of ‘I want to go over there,’” Pieter says fondly, reminiscing on Friday evenings spent watching the show with his family back in their home country.
“Yeah you always watched Dallas… that inspired you,” says Petra, his wife, with a chuckle.
Pieter and Petra, who married in 2000, greet their two children Hillary, age 8, and Pieter Jr., age 11, with a hug and a bottle of water when they come home from school in the nearby town of Aubrey. The children often assist Pieter with the computer and iPad technology used in payment transactions for their business, he mentions with a laugh, as he is not familiar with how that all works.
“Beautiful day today,” Pieter observes, lounging on a white wicker couch on their back porch during a 90+ degree day. “This weather, what we have now, is the hottest day in the summer in the Netherlands. It’s always rainy and cloudy days. This weather makes me smile.”
Their family farm in Pilot Point is the culmination of a dream that originated way back with Pieter’s grandparents, Piet and Cornelia. Beginning with around six to seven vegetables, they originally tended their own vegetable farm in Venhuizen, Netherlands. Around 1935, they began growing tulips as well.
Piet and Cornelia had 13 children, the eldest being Pieter’s father, Piet. He was eager to follow in his father’s footsteps with his wife, Afra. Taking his father’s advice, Piet followed his own path and began a horticultural farm in Nibbixwoud, Netherlands in 1975. They added leeks, chrysanthemums and irises, as well as tulip bulbs. After completing school, Pieter, the current owner of the farm, joined his father in the family business in 1988 when he was 16.
Pieter and Petra say they perfected their craft of growing tulips in the Netherlands over the course of 30 years. From discovering methods of planting tulips bulbs in the winter in their greenhouses, to the wholesale auctions that sent their tulips to various parts of Europe, their methods had been noticeably successful.
Pieter’s family’s unique concept for their Texas tulip farm started with a desire to develop personal connections with their customers, connections they lacked during the days of selling tulips at auction. They also wanted to give their customers an entertaining experience when visiting their farm, starting with basking in the tulip fields all the way to purchasing bulbs to take home and enjoy.
“We [thought]… okay, what are we going to do? We are going to take a look at Texas and maybe we’re going to sell the tulip flowers from outside and then people can pick their own tulips,” Pieter says, gesturing his hands passionately. “And it is a concept that is unique, because you have more places around the world growing tulips, but you can never touch a flower. You can only take pictures, and that’s it. But here, you can pick your own tulips, and that’s the fun of it!”
Petra smiles as Pieter recalls their story, correcting him or reminding him of names and dates when he’s forgotten, and doing so with a laugh. She chimes in with comments, sometimes the both of them speaking simultaneously on the same idea.
When in full bloom, a rainbow of pink, red and yellow tulips cover the vast fields from the end of February through the end of March every year. Visitors can walk through rows and rows of the colorful, fresh-smelling flowers, photograph them, and pick some to take home. Admission is nominal and other costs are optional, such as personal bouquets or tulip bulbs for your own home garden.
People come from all over the country for the Koemans’ famous tulips.
“I didn’t expect it to be growing so big,” Pieter says.
But even with a successful tulip farm business, the Koeman’s vision for the Texas Tulips is much greater.
One day, they would like to offer their customers fresh-squeezed orange juice or other types of refreshment to enjoy while visiting. Another of their ideas is to introduce live music on the weekends for visitors to enjoy and maybe even dance to through the fields. They want to make a visit to their farm fun and memorable.
“We are only in the beginning,” Petra says, with hope in her voice.
For now, what keeps customers coming back are the enchanting tulips that bloom vibrantly across the fields of Pilot Point. The charming couple that came looking for J.R. and Bobby have bloomed in Texas as well.