About Us

The Blokker family has a long and successful tradition in horticulture. Each generation has passed on their fascination with plants and love of gardening to the next. Almost 150 years later the family business is still thriving.

  • In 1868 Nicolaas Blokker (1839-1884) started a nursery in Akersloot, The Netherlands. Family records indicate that he grew 82 varieties of tulips and fritillarias. Nicolaas died unexpectedly at age 45.
  • In 1886 The widow of Nicholaas, Lena Kokkes with her 8 children married her foreman Jan van’t Hof (1846-1938). The business was renamed Van’t hof and Blokker
  • In 1888 Nicolaas and Lena’s eldest son, Jan Blokker (1868-1937), took a job as a trainee in an English nursery to learn the language and the business. With his return to the Netherlands, Van’t Hof and Blokker became an export company.
  • In 1894 Jan Blokker issued the first bulb catalogue for the English market and travelled by steamboat to New York to generate business in the USA and Canada.
  • In 1898 a letter was received from the Governor General of Canada with their first orders of bulbs for Van t’ Hof and Blokker. Today, the Government House (Rideau Hall) continues to be a valued account.
  • In 1928 Nic Blokker offered land that would house the collections of Pieter Boschman and Dr. Willem de Mol . This was the beginning of the “Hortus Bulborum” Latin for bulb garden. For almost 60 years, Van’t Hof and Blokker housed the living cultural heritage of the bulb industry. Every year its employees looked after the collection.
  • In 1937 Nic Blokker helped organize the first flower bulb exhibit at the Toronto Flower Show and was an active supporter of many horticultural organizations. Through WWII, in spite of the hardships, flood damage to the fields and famine that drove many to eating flower bulbs, the historic bulb collections of the “Hortus Bulborum” were protected and survived.
  • In 1942 Princess Juliana of the Netherlands fled to Canada. Arie van Rijn (future GM at V&B) at the time, a member of the Dutch military, accompanied the princesses as a bodyguard. Princess Juliana was expecting a child.
  • In 1943 Princess Margriet was born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital in a room proclaimed to be Dutch territory so the royal heir could be born a Dutch citizen. To thank Canada for sheltering their princess, and liberating their country, the Dutch government presented Canada with a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs.
  • In 1945 Malak Karsh’s suggested the tulips be planted in front of the parliament buildings in Ottawa in new beds created for them. This was the start of the Canadian tulip festival.
  • In 1946 The Dutch Royal family awarded Canada with a yearly donation of tulip bulbs. For 65 years, Vanhof and Blokker has proudly looked after this gift.
  • In 1957 Nic Blokker had a severe heart attack and could no longer make his annual North American trip after almost 90 ocean crossings.
  • In 1957 David de Jager (1929-2006) was appointed President of Vanhof & Blokker in 1959. He had married Nic ‘s only child Kea Blokker in 1956. The de Jager’s and Blokker’s were neighbours.
  • In 1966 Nic Blokker was knighted for service to his country, receiving the Royal Dutch Knighthood of Orange-Nassau on his 70th birthday.
  • In 1969 Van’t Hof & Blokker was awarded a prestigious Royal Warrant by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.
  • In 1970 The company name was changed to Vanhof and Blokker Ltd. much to the relief of the Canadian office staff. Now time would be saved not having to explain how to spell Van’t Hof.
  • In 1978 Under David’s leadership, the company again moved and built new offices and warehouses at their nurseries in Heiloo. The Hortus Bulborum collections were moved as well.
  • In 1985 The next generation joined the business when Robert M. de Jager, youngest son of David and Kea, came to Canada after finishing his economics and marketing studies in The Netherlands. The Canadian operations moved to the present location, at 6745 Pacific Circle in Mississauga.
  • In 1990 a foundation was established to look after the Hortus Bulborum collection that by then had grown to over 2500 unique cultivars and species. It had become a living museum and gene bank. A plot of land was found and the Hortus Bulborum collection moved to its new home with its future secure.
  • In 1991 Vanhof and Blokker’s growing operation in The Netherlands was sold. Today, the relationship with dependable growers and suppliers endures. Long standing and carefully cultivated relationships enable Vanhof and Blokker to continue to be one of Canada’s leading Horticultural Companies.
  • In 2003 sadly, Robert de Jager passed away, at the very young age of 40, on June 4th after a brave battle with cancer. He left his wife Dina and three very young children. Robert had wholeheartedly embraced the family tradition of service to the community. Two projects were incomplete when he died; Itambe, Brazil and the Terra Cotta Community Centre.
  • In 2006 saw the final pieces of medical equipment placed in Itambe, Brazil.
  • In 2011 Dina de Jager was appointed president of Vanhof and Blokker.
  • In 2012 the inauguration of the rebuilt Terra Cotta Community Centre

After more than 140 years, Vanhof & Blokker’s future looks bright as its business continues to grow. By constantly looking for new opportunities, more varieties in our product line and creating innovative marketing strategies for our customers, we have positioned ourselves to remain the market leader in the 21st century.