Emiel Karsten – known as De Witte Ridder (The White Knight) among peony lovers – took the plunge in 2002; at the age of 22, he founded his own peony nursery by the Broerdijk in Midwoud, just across his father’s company.
Today, De Witte Ridder cultivates his peonies on 10 hectares of land, harvests about a million stems each year and can call himself one of the best peony growers in the country. Determined, energetic and always investigative: that’s Emiel! He can sometimes be a bit stubborn but is, above all, an enthusiastic peony lover that pours his heart and soul into his flowers.
Initially, Emiel only sold his flowers at clock auctions in Naaldwijk, where he has built a solid reputation for himself. These days, he’s getting more and more active at auctions in Aalsmeer. My Peony Society and The White Knight share the same view on the peony market; the quality of the product must always come first. If you produce the best product you can, financial appreciation will always follow suit. That’s why the peonies of De Witte Ridder are so popular and beloved at auctions and with customers of My Peony Society.
Quality is the most important thing to Emiel. Instead of bunching his peonies as fast as he can after harvest to make a quick buck, he puts all his effort into nursing his plants. You see, peony plants are still strong and very able to absorb water and nutrients right after cutting. By nursing his plants, Emiel makes sure his crops will stay healthy and produce stronger and even nicer flowers the next year. And it shows; the peonies of De Witte Ritter are beautiful.
The assortment consists of Sarah Bernhardt, Coral Supreme, Dr. Alexander Fleming, Monsieur Jules Elie, Immaculee, Pink Panther, Coral Sunset and Duchesse de Nemours. Emiel tends to his flowers day and night: watering, feeding, making sure bees and butterflies dart around his fields, optimizing soil life, monitoring the weather…he keeps track of everything. Just like the bees and the butterflies in his fields though, Emiel feels an innate need to flutter freely. He plans to move shipment facilities in-house to optimize the cooling chain. A recent expansion of his nursery provides him with enough room for bunching and cooling facilities.
Emiel makes the impossible possible. He won’t let anybody stop him and that’s what makes him such a fantastic peony grower and business partner. We at My Peony Society are looking forward to our future together!