Helleborus BVBA: A hobby gone out of control

Helleborus BVBA in the Belgian town of Oostkamp is a global player when it comes to the breeding of hellebores, which has been gaining popularity as a Christmas plant. Owner Thierry van Paemel reports that demand has skyrocketed. “The winter plant allows growers to expand their sales season.”

“It all started as a hobby”, explains hellebores grower Thierry van Paemel. He spent many years at the helm of their family business, nursery Het Wilgenbroek, in Oostkamp. During those years, the plant lover built up a vast collection of hellebore plants. He brought many species over from trips to the UK and other places. “Those plants were for the enthusiasts, hobbyists; they didn’t have any commercial value.”

But everything changed shortly after the turn of the century, when Het Wilgenbroek came into the picture of the national TV broadcasting company. “This was the time when gardening programmes were becoming popular. They needed somewhere to film in winter, too. That’s how they found us.” After the winter plant had appeared on TV, things really took off. “Consumers started to ask for the plant at garden centres, and the garden centres came to us. That’s when we first started to think this was something we could develop further”, says the grower.

Separate location

The hellebores section at the nursery in Oostkamp soon started to burst at the seams, so the family decided to take over a greenhouse horticulture company in the same town six years ago. (..)

Click here to read the full article in Floribusiness magazine.

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