VIDEO: Move to the Island allows daffodil grower to indulge his passion

Franc Ruigrok is passionate about the daffodils he grows on his York Road property. He has planted more than 27,000 daffodils of various different varieties. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River MirrorFranc Ruigrok is passionate about the daffodils he grows on his York Road property. He has planted more than 27,000 daffodils of various different varieties. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror
Daffodils soak up the sun at Franc Ruigrok and Gudrun Heckerott’s property on York Road. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River MirrorDaffodils soak up the sun at Franc Ruigrok and Gudrun Heckerott’s property on York Road. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror
Franc Ruigrok and Gudrun Heckerott relocated to York Road from the Lower Mainland last year and quickly set about accommodating Ruigrok’s passion for growing daffodils by planting more than 27,000 bulbs. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River MirrorFranc Ruigrok and Gudrun Heckerott relocated to York Road from the Lower Mainland last year and quickly set about accommodating Ruigrok’s passion for growing daffodils by planting more than 27,000 bulbs. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror
A handful of daffodil blooms shows some of the many different varities that Franc Ruigrok grows on his York Road property. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River MirrorA handful of daffodil blooms shows some of the many different varities that Franc Ruigrok grows on his York Road property. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Relocating to Vancouver Island from the Lower Mainland has allowed Franc Ruigrok to indulge in his passion for daffodils.

Ruigrok and his partner Gudrun Heckerott left big city living to purchase property on Vancouver Island and no sooner had they moved onto a couple of acres on York Road, than Ruigrok began planting daffodil bulbs that he had been collecting for years.

“So, I got my collection over the years,” Ruigrok said. “And I never had a set-up like this because we lived in a four-storey home in Steveston.”

A horticulturalist by profession and a transplant from The Netherlands, flowers are the focus of Ruigrok’s life. Raised in the flower bulb district of Holland with tulips and daffodils all around, becoming a horticulturalist was a natural progression. The daffodils he’s planted on his York Road property are not a commercial venture but they’re more than just a nice garden.

“People say, ‘Oh, you have a nice hobby,’” Ruigrok said. “I call it a passion. It’s beyond a hobby.”

Story continues below video…

Ruigrok wasted no time in getting his daffodils into the ground. You get the impression he couldn’t wait. Taking possession of the property in the fall, he had the bulbs planted by November, which is a little late. Normally, they are planted in September but it took six weeks to plan and prepare the garden beds.

Through his gardens, Ruigrok hopes to demonstrate the diversity of daffodils that can be grown in B.C. The climate on the Island is perfect for growing them, he said.

His passion for growing the different varieties is also spurred on by the need to preserve many of the different varieties at a time when breeders are getting old and there are fewer younger people stepping up to keep the varieties going. Daffodils take years to breed.

“And young people, they don’t have the patience and you see worldwide that breeders are getting old,” Ruigrok said. “There are a few youngers ones now stepping up and this is really nice but it is not enough. We need younger plus more people who will teach besides enjoying the flowers.”

It’s hard dealing with something that is so old already, he said. Ruigrok has 550 varieties. One of them is over 300 years old and about 20 per cent of his varieties are a hundred years old.

RELATED: B.C.’s wild bees need messy gardens to survive

Some of the daffodils are “quite expensive” because nobody grows them anymore.

“But I don’t want the people to forget them, I want them to continue,” Ruigrok said. “You know, that’s why people have collections, whatever they collect.”

Ruigrok can be quite obsessed by this passion. He is frequently on his phone communicating with breeders and growers all over the world trying to secure bulbs and exchanging information. And that is it what sustains his interest.

“Because it is my passion, it is just being in my element and also, the communication you have with Australia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Poland, the people who have the same interest. I get a lot of fulfilment out of it.”

Depending on the variety, the first flowers begin to bloom in February and will continue up even until June, although most of the blossoms are beginning to dwindle now.

The house Ruigrok and Heckerott purchased came complete with a pond filled with goldfish and koi. Their deck and front room overlook the pond and on a banked hill on the other side is covered with rows of daffodils with their range of colours from pink and red all the way up to white, some of them two toned, most of them either pure white or pure yellow.

RELATED: Podcast: Getting your green thumb ready for Vancouver Island’s gardening season


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell Rivergardening

Just Posted

The City of Campbell River will purchase an automated external defibrillator (AED) for the Overdose Prevention Site after a letter from a local paramedic pointed out it doesn’t have one. Black Press File Photo
City of Campbell River to buy defibrillator for downtown Overdose Prevention Site

Local paramedic pens letter asking for city’s assistance after trying other avenues to acquire AED

Campbell River RCMP. RCMP photo
Two knife incidents reported on same day in Campbell River

Stabbing and knife fight both occured on May 13

Cash, drugs and weapons were seized by the Street Crimes Unit on May 12. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police recover cash, drugs and weapons after arrest

18-year-old arrested in Willow Point Park for drug trafficking

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read