Signs in the air of a good season

The arrival of spring is hard to miss at Tasmania’s largest bulb-growing operation.

While the Van Diemen Quality Bulbs farm at Table Cape is best known for its spectacular tulips, at this time of the year it is the other bulb varieties that are bursting into colour.

Dave Roberts-Thompson said along with tulips, the farm grew about five main bulb varieties including Dutch irises and liliums, along with the currently flowering daffodils and hyacinths.

Due to quarantine requirements and susceptibility to disease in some of the flowering crops the farm is not currently open to the public.

“Some of them are susceptible to bacterial diseases which can be quite hard to control,” he said.
“If there was an outbreak all we could do is try to contain it because there aren’t really any treatments you can use.”

He said generally the farm’s soil type and higher level of organic matter did offer some protection against disease compared to the sandy type soils where the bulbs are traditionally grown in Holland.

The hyacinths bulbs are planted in April and once ready will be harvested by hand.

Mr Roberts-Thompson said while it was labour-intensive, hand harvesting had big benefits.

“They are quite a sensitive bulb, so we find that harvesting them by hand is the best way to do it,” he said.
“We basically go through with a twin-row harvester and pick them up from there. Diseases can spread on equipment so the less machinery we need to have in the paddock, the better.”

This year the farm grows about 2ha of hyacinths along with a small number of daffodils.

The plantings including some new imported varieties. “We’re also topping up some of our more popular varieties.”

Each year the farm throws open its gates to coincide with the peak tulip flowering from late September but due to COVID this year’s Tulip Festival has been cancelled.

However, the farm will be open to the public from September 25 until late October.

Go to or the Van Diemen Quality Bulbs Facebook page.

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