Art of Aging: Chadds Ford Greenhouses

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A Delaware County couple is getting their tulips ready for the Philadelphia Flower show's entrance garden.

A Delaware County couple is getting their tulips ready for the Philadelphia Flower show's entrance garden.

The show opens this Saturday with the theme Holland: Flowering the World.

Janneke and John Rotteveel are the owners of Chadds Ford Greenhouses.

Walk inside the Chadds Ford Greenhouses and you'll likely be greeted by a few cats.

"It's Oscar and Zero or Zero and Oscar," said Janneke.

There are 5 felines in all in a field of 30,000 tulips ready to burst into a brilliant rainbow of colors.

The Rotteveels are the tulip tenders using a tricky mix of artistry and science.

"The idea is to get them to a certain point if they're blooming too fast then we move them to a colder place, so that they're just right for opening day of the Flower Show, said John.

And their roots run deep.

John added, "My great grandfather started a bulb business in Holland in the late 1800's. My father would travel here to sell bulbs."

And that's how his father met his mother, the daughter of a Philadelphia florist who exhibited at the Flower Show back in the 1920s and 30s.

And John joined them in the bulb business about 62 years ago.

"Pssh, I grew up in it. My father was forcing tulips and hyacinths when I was just 6, 7 years old," said John.

It was on a trip back to the Netherlands that John met his wife.

"I grew up right in the middle of the bulb fields," said Janneke.

In their 22,000 square feet of flowering paradise, the couple married 44 years this summer find joy in growing everything from Easter bulbs to tropical cactus and fruit trees.

"It's great to see a smile on somebody's face when they come in and they purchase something and they really like it, said John."

Janneke is the greenhouses' chief grower, but John is the chief grower of bulbs even though she was the one born and raised in the Netherlands bulb district.

"This is not per se my, my favorite crop," said Janneke. "If there's something new out there in tropical, annuals or perennials, she's on top of it," added John.

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