2016 is proving to be a fabulous year for premium bulb brand de Jager, with the Chelsea Flower Show having been and gone, along with big plans to celebrate their seventh year at QVC later on in the year. With all of this excitement, we thought we’d catch up with their guest George Clowes at the head of the ship to find out more about the brand, as well as the man himself.
De Jager is all about heritage. Established in 1868, they have 148 years of experience and are undeniable experts in supplying the best size and quality bulbs; which can sometimes be hard to find if you don’t shop with QVC. George adds: ‘We never compromise on size or quality and we are also absolutely passionate about exemplary customer service. Thereby, we maintain and enhance the brand’s longstanding premium reputation; we are all extraordinarily proud of de Jager.’
To top off their stellar reputation, in January 2013 de Jager were appointed as the royals’ Supplier of Garden Flower Bulbs, something they were ‘extremely proud and deeply honoured’ by. George describes this impressive feat as a ‘huge tribute’ to his company’s family and to their premium bulbs.
“I am by training a businessman, but at heart a gardener”
So, how did George join their incredible journey?
It was a case of being at the right place at the right time for George, as he admits he was simply fortunate that his offer was accepted. Having always loved gardening, and been more than familiar with the de Jager name, he explains: ‘When I discovered, purely by chance, in May 2008 that the widow of Dick de Jager (the grandson of the founder, Thelma de Jager) wished to retire and had nobody within her family to carry the business on, I immediately offered to buy the company.’
The company was passed on to more than worthy hands, as George explains: ‘I have been a very keen amateur gardener from an early age and I am a 3rd generation de Jager customer.’ Since then, George has had to step up to balancing business and blooms: ‘I have learnt an enormous amount in regard to horticulture over the past eight years and people from within the industry have been incredibly kind (and patient). I am by training a businessman, but at heart a gardener.’
From years of working with the best in the industry, George has some valuable tips to share: ‘Plan ahead and photograph your garden through the seasons’ he says, ‘you then have a record of where you want to make changes and/or need to fill gaps.’
He also has brilliant advice specifically for tulips (his favourites are pictured left): ‘To keep them straight once in an arrangement, wrap the stems in cling film straight after you’ve cut them and stand them in water overnight. Once unwrapped the following morning, the stems will remain upright.’
On a day-to-day basis, George is a hands-on owner involved in managing every aspect of the company, but he assures us it’s a team effort: ‘I could not do this without the help and support of the most wonderful staff. Several of our team have been with the company for many years, including Jo Heale who runs all of our bulb selection and buying. Jo’s in her 47th year with de Jager!’
Here’s a photo of George (in a striking jacket George saves for special QVC occasions!) with Kevin Fletcher from the de Jager warehouse entertaining at their garden party, proof of the extraordinary lengths each member of their de Jager family goes to for their customers!
Jo, Kevin, and all of the de Jager team have an exciting time ahead: ‘This summer’ George shares, ‘along with a comprehensive offering of tulips, narcissi and other spring flowering bulbs, we will be featuring a stunning, relatively new Allium called Silverspring (pictured below). Since its introduction, it has only been available in very limited numbers.
This year, de Jager has managed to secure a huge supply and will be offering these bulbs to QVC customers only.’
So if you have a case of green fingers, make sure you keep an eye out for that soon!
“We maintain and enhance the longstanding premium reputation of de Jager and we are all extraordinarily proud of de Jager”
Plus, this September marks their seventh anniversary with QVC. George has revealed some special spring flowering collections might be in store for you to enjoy… another one to look out for later on in the year!
George has loved being a part of the QVC family for a number of reasons, such as having that priceless, direct communication with their customers to encourage them to introduce new plants to their gardens, providing them with top quality and premium sized bulbs, all resulting in a fantastic result in customers’ gardens that they can be proud of. George adds: ‘Indeed, many QVC customers contact me expressing their joy and sending photographs of their fine de Jager displays.’
The brand are also able to team up with QVC to help those in need. Back in March, thanks to the support from QVC customers, de Jager was able to donate £7,500 to Greenfingers – a charity which builds gardens for children in hospices throughout the UK.
So the de Jager and QVC story is a beautiful one, and sure to keep going from strength to strength!
George in 20 seconds
Family: My wife Rose and two children; Toby, 25, and Lucy, 24
Pets: I have two Norfolk terriers and a black Labrado, they’re called Molly, Ruby and Willa
Wheels: I absolutely love my old Gypsy Caravan, I also have a very old (and unreliable) Land Rover, and an old Beach Buggy called Primrose
Favourite food: Roast chicken
Favourite place: I love Scotland and visit the Outer Hebrides every year
Favourite band: Queen
Favourite author: Tom Bower
Favourite television show: The Antiques Roadshow (and anything on QVC!)
Why, but of course.
To be honest, George, there’s not much else we watch either.
It’s great to get an insight into such a busy brand to see what they’ve achieved and what their plans are for the future – here’s to making it to a QVC decade, George!
Visit our website to see the full de Jager range