Tip-toe through the Texas Tulips

Experience a getaway to the tulip fields of the Netherlands right in the middle of horse country at the only “pick your own” tulip farm in the Lone Star State.

Pieter Koeman brought his family business all the way from the Netherlands to Pilot Point, creating “Texas Tulips” with a vision of sharing the joy of tulips wither others. Guests are showing up in droves to wander the tulip field, pick their own tulips, grab stunning photo opportunities and play in the hay maze.

The Koeman’s were not born in Texas, but you could say they got here as fast as they could. Pieter grew up in the Netherlands watching the show Dallas in a tradition that brought his family together on the couch every Friday night and dreamed of a life similar to the Ewings. 

When he was grown, Pieter joined his parents Piet and Afra Koeman in the tulip business, which got its start as a horticulture farm with a space and a handful of onion seeds, later adding leeks, chrysanthemums, irises and tulip bulbs. Eventually, the family became specialists in tulip bulb production.

The company was famous for its “early” tulips by placing plastic foil over the tulip bulbs for export while they were still in the fields, forcing the tulips to flower earlier than normal. Each winter, the family grew tens of millions of tulips in their greenhouses. In 2011, Piet Koeman passed away.

After his father’s passing, Pieter began seriously considering chasing his childhood dream of moving to the United States.

After his sister read a book about the soil in the Pilot Point area, she visited the United States with Afra, staying in communication everyday with Pieter and Petra.

“They drove towards Fort Worth and towards McKinney and eventually ended up in the Pilot Point area. The soil is good, in other areas its clay but here it is sandy loam. The first thing my husband did when we visited- two weeks after my sister-in-law and mother-in-law returned home- was investigate the soil by pouring water on it, and he saw the drainage was very good,” said Petra.

Their first visit to the United States was almost a comical experience. Not knowing a single soul in Texas, the couple picked up the phone and called a real estate agent for help, who naturally thought the call from the Netherlands was a prank, maybe even a scam.

However, the real estate agent learned that wasn’t the case when he received a phone call a few days later from the Koemans, informing him they had just landed and were headed to Denton, ready to look at property.

The move would also include the Koeman’s two children, Pieter, who was nine at the time, and Hillary, who was seven. The children spoke hardly any English, but adjusted quickly to the move, as did their parents.

In January 2015, the family landed in Texas, ready to open their first season. But like many other times, Texas weather had other plans.

“The first month was good weather, but by the end of February the weather pattern changed and it started to snow,” recalled Petra.

Several of the early varieties were already blooming.

“We wanted to open by the end of February, but there was snow on the tulips so people couldn’t visit,” recalled Pieter. “Later the snow melted, but then we had rain for 10 days. I remember one day we all were sitting inside, looking outside, and we thought, what kind of weather is this?”

To read more pick up a copy of the March/April 2018 LiveIt issue.