Parenteel Derck Backer (van Roekel) - Inleiding Naamlijst Bronnen

Mary Louise (Mary Lou) Korver

Dochter van James Jobert Korver en Marian Elizabeth Noteboom, geboren 29-1-1942

Trouwt 1-9-1960 Donley Ray (Don) Van Der Wel, geboren 20-3-1938


  1. Stephan Blake Van Der Wel, geboren 19-8-1961
  2. Richard Grant Van Der Wel, geboren 17-11-1964
  3. Julie Rae Van Der Wel, geboren 9-10-1968
    Trouwt 30-6-1989 Matthew M Wrather, geboren 31-12-1968


Email Deb Emery 17-5-2018:
This article appeared in the Sioux City Journal, May 14, 2003
Don Vander Wel's Orange City home, just west of the Sioux County Courthouse, but he didn't see a single parade last year. Vander Wel practically spent the whole festival in his garden. A recluse, you ask? A Tulip Festival boycotter? Nothing could be further from the truth. Vander Wel's garden, you see, isn't any ordinary garden. And he's not an ordinary Orange Cityan. For more than 20 years, Vander Wel and his wife, Mary Lou, who is the director of the Orange City Chamber of Commerce, have operated Vander Wel Tulip Test Garden in their backyard. They started it in 1980, taking over the tulip-ordering business that Mary Lou's father, Jim Korver, had in his five-and-dime store downtown before he retired. "We planted half a garden to see how the public would respond," recalls Don. "We were just overwhelmed, so the next year we planted the whole garden. We've done it ever since."

Today, about 6,800 tulips, representing 49 varieties, bloom in the Vander Wels' backyard. They plant new bulbs every fall, imported from Langeveld, a large tulip brokerage firm in the Netherlands. The Vander Wels sell tulip bulbs to the thousands of people who visit their gardens each spring. Based mostly on word-of-mouth advertising and order sheets passed on from Tulip Festival visitors to their friends and neighbors, the Vander Wels' business serves customers from around the country and as far away as Argentina, Australia and Peru. Customers submit their orders to the Vander Wels by June 1 and Langeveld delivers the bulbs from the Netherlands by boat to the U.S. in late September or early October. The Vander Wels repackage and send the bulbs to customers in time for fall planting.

When the Vander Wels' garden venture began, it was the Midwest test site for the tulip company that exported the bulbs, analyzing varieties that weren't yet on the market. "We'd plant a hundred of a variety and see how much came up, take soil temperatures, check the color," explains Vander Wel. He doesn't do as much testing now, but he does report when varieties don't turn out to be their expected color. Over the years, Vander Wel has noticed that the tulips have a variation in color from the Netherlands to Orange City. He's not sure why, but he notes that a variety of factors affecting the flowers' growth differ between the two places. The winters in Northwest Iowa are harsher than those in the Netherlands, for example, and the springs here aren't as cool and damp. "Our soil is much richer; theirs is sandy," adds Vander Wel. "We have to keep adding peat moss to the soil to keep it loose so the water drains away from the bulb properly. They say that tulips like wet feet but they don't want to be drowning." The heaviness of the soil in this area is the answer to the most common question Tulip Festival visitors ask Vander Wel: Why doesn't Orange City have fields of tulips like they do in the Netherlands? "There's no way it would work unless we brought in round sand so the soil wouldn't pack," responds Vander Wel.

Answering questions and chatting with guests is one of the joys Vander Wel gets from opening his garden to the public each spring. "Last year we had lines of people from the garden to the street. People had to stand for 20 minutes before they got in," says the gardener. "We don't try to rush them through; we take time to talk with them. "I get a lot of satisfaction from having people come to see the flowers. They're so appreciative. That's what the Tulip Festival is all about; the other stuff is all frosting on the cake. It's a service to the community, my way of being able to participate."

Vander Wel retired last August after more than 35 years as a social worker with the Iowa Department of Human Services. Now he works three days a week at Woudstra Meat Market - but not in the month of May.

[Also see: Orange City Tulip Festival]

© Gijs van Roekel, Maarn 2006 - Ga naar begin