About Us

About the Lily Pad Bulb Farm

We are a family-owned and operated farm, based in Olympia, Washington for the past 32 years. We began our operation as cut flower growers and have expanded into bulb and root production for nation-wide distribution. Thus we are legitimate and experienced growers, rather than back-yard gardeners and dealers in so-called "left-overs" from Holland. To a lesser extent we are also importers of fine bulbs and plants, new or rare to the domestic market. We trial everything that we buy in order to determine its quality and garden-worthiness and provide insight and pertinent first-hand details to our .customers. Part of our imported stock becomes planting stock for perpetuation of worthy varieties in our domestic fields. We have entered into contractual terms with certain other West Coast growers to grow some of our bulbs for us. We provide the stock and they provide the labor, land, and technological expertise. This is done partly to boost our capacity and partly to ensure against crop failure. So to summarize, the majority of our bulbs are domestically produced, even those originating in Holland and the Orient. We do honor plant patent rights and buy directly from authorized growers when dealing with patent-protected varieties.

Why do business with us?

New and better varieties

Tired of chain-store and garden-center “same old” varieties? We specialize in items you can't find in stores. We are well-connected in the industry and stay alert to recent exciting developments, and new and improved characteristics.

Bigger bulbs

In most distribution channels (especially non-domestic) the really big bulbs are unobtainable because they are scarce to begin with, are used mainly for propagation purposes, and are too costly to ship to the customer.  On the other hand, we are dedicated to providing top-size bulbs, generally 18-20 cm for Oriental, Orienpet, and Trumpet lilies (take a look at our BULB-ZILLA™ product category, which provides an opportunity to obtain even bigger bulbs than routinely provided). Big bulbs produce more flowers their very first year, and of course will continue to grow larger in your garden every year. By doing business with us, you short-cut your waiting period and enjoy instant gratification in your garden. (Note: some types of bulbs are, by nature, small, and bloom well from small sizes). We will always specify bulb size and provide the largest size obtainable for those).

Quality and best value

Due to rampant finger-pointing in the business (some with basis), we must disassociate ourselves from the mass bulb marketers and discounters who deal  in inferior tired bulbs, many mislabelled and past "pull date",  dumped by the Dutch market. We place a higher value on our reputation and accountability to the customer than to engage in such business.  Our bulbs come either directly from our fields, our growers' fields, breeders, or sources with whom we have established a long relationship of trust. We have our own system of post-harvest quality control to identify potential problems before they reach our customers.   Our bulbs are maintained under appropriate controlled-temperature and controlled humidity conditions.  Although we don't fall into the category of  "discounter", we do pride ourselves on  best price for comparable varieties, quality, and size of bulbs.  

WE GUARANTEE DELIVERY OF HEALTHY BULBS, WHICH ARE TRUE TO NAME.

In an industry of mass marketing, where lack of accountability and impersonal treatment prevails, we stand behind our product. We maintain tight control over quality issues and are ready to replace or refund anything which meets with your disapproval. We outline here the conditions and procedures for submitting a claim. Some quality issues may be apparent upon delivery, in which case you should notify us promptly. We allow one growing season to report quality or identity issues. If the plant does not bloom the first year, you will be allowed an additional growing season to report discrepancies. Needless to say it’s always a wise idea to label your bulbs in the garden, in order to coherently report problems. Also, bear in mind we can’t be held responsible for loss of bulbs and plants which are not promptly planted, according to instructions furnished.

Please report the following by Aug. 31, 2017 for anything planted between Oct 2016 and Spring 2017. (In general we allow one growing season to report problems)

  • Your name and address
  • Where did you purchase your bulbs, online? Garden show? Farmer’s market? Catalog order?
  • Names and quantities of bulbs that failed to meet your expectations
  • Descriptions of the problem
  • Report the condition of bulbs which failed to come up. (You will need to physically dig and examine the planting site to see what because of the bulb. Did it dry up? Did it rot? Did it get eaten? Did the sprouts get snipped off at the point of emergence? These kinds of clues can help identify the true nature of the failure in order to assess responsibility and gain understanding on how to avoid later recurrence.

Qualifications:

Please understand that we disclaim responsibility for problems which are beyond our control, such as improper or delayed planting, unusual weather or environmental circumstances, animal damage, and mechanical injury. Many of these factors don’t lead to death of bulbs anyhow, but to delayed gratification the following season. Also particularily exempted from our guarantee are the following:

Lack of top growth on Martagon lilies. This is commonly encountered and somewhat normal for the first year. If nothing comes up the second year, we will take action.

Poor performance on bulbs grown indoors or in undersized pots (These are not recommended approaches).

Lack of flowering the first year. Many perennials don’t bloom the first year, especially Daylilies and Peonies. The chances are highly likely of first-year bloom for Lilies, but NOT guaranteed. This is a reality of perennial gardening and we would hope that the dedicated gardener would bear these uncertainties, rather than hold the supplier solely responsible.

Customer Service

We believe in "Real Person" customer service. We are actually happy to hear from you. Our phone staff and email staff is knowledgeable about all aspects of growing and care, and can provide prompt response to your concerns. Our voicemail is answered on a regular basis should you encounter busy line or voicemail greeting. Email is always acknowledged by a "real person." Our service also extends to state-of-the-art storage, packaging, and shipping of product, something that our larger competitors often fail to provide.

Considering the size and quality of our stock, the ready service we provide, and our guarantee, we believe you are getting top value for your money, by doing business with THE LILY PAD.

Rumor Control

Some of you have reported verbal rumors rightfully aimed at disreputable mass marketers and discounteers of Dutch bulbs, but MISDIRECTED against our Company. As the story goes, an unnamed competitor has been misinforming you, apparently to discredit the source and quality of our bulbs. Let us reassure you that these concerns are without basis.

  1. The quality of our product has spoken for itself for the past 32 years, We've attracted and retained thousands of enthusiastic customers, brimming with positive testimonial. We welcome you to read their comments. You may also be interested in viewing our ratings with Dave's Garden Watchdog. (Just Google Dave's Garden Watchdog, The Lily Pad) We are secure in our reputation, without needing to discredit our competition. We hope you will consider the source when confronted with negative rhetoric. Are you sure you're getting objective and authoritative information about us from our competitors?
  2. We are totally forthright about the source, condition and size of our bulbs. If you want to know, just ask!. The source of our bulbs is mainly domestic, much of it from our own fields. As described at the top of this page, we do pursue opportunities to add new varieties and patented varieties by importing certain things from reputable sources that we know and trust. Pursuant to that we examine and test everything that we buy. Strict quality control standards are in force here. We find that because of strict federal agricultural inspection, the imported bulbs tend to be exceptionally high quality, or they would never make it into the country. Let us summarize all this controversy about source, by saying that the real quality issue is not source, but MANAGEMENT of the bulbs. This is where some of the larger impersonal mail-order companies seem to be failing their customers. We do not deserve to be put in the same category with those dealers, as our critics are trying with futility to do.
  3. "Frozen bulbs" The real scoop: This designation has been invoked, almost as a dirty word, by some of our detractors attempting to point the finger on this issue (even though they themselves market such goods at times). A more proper term for this is “Pre-cooled” bulbs, which means the bulbs are carefully maintained at 29 degrees Fahrenheit to inhibit pre-mature sprouting and to assure more uniform growth at the proper time. Some of the bulbs we sell in the Spring are sourced in Holland, which arrive here freshly dug and pre-cooled.

Fact: We never import or pre-cool our Fall-harvested bulbs

(to de-bunk the kinds of things you may hear from the other camp). All Fall-dug bulbs are domestically produced by us or by our Northwest Associates, and shipped fresh from the harvest. They don't need pre-cooling as long as you plant them right away and don't try to force them right off the bat.

Some of the bulbs we sell in the Spring are from Holland, which arrive here pre-cooled. Temperature is gradually raised to thaw and package the bulbs, after which they go into our temperature and humidity-controlled cooler (NOT freezer). Bulbs are withdrawn as needed for our shipping activities and for our planting stock. There is absolutely no adverse effect on quality or performance. In fact most domestic cut flowers growers PREFER Dutch pre-cooled bulbs. Commercial flower growers are as picky as they come, when it comes to bulb quality.

Think about this from a realistic standpoint. A temperature of 29 degrees F. is barely below the freezing point. For the short duration of time our bulbs are held at this temperature, there is no big deviation from natural outdoor Winter temperature in many people's gardens. In essence, pre-cooling is quite natural.

We hope this clears up some of the scare-stories that may have been circulating. Our focus will continue to be, not on diminishing the competition, but in optimizing our own product and service, giving out correct information, and de-bunking myths, on behalf of our wonderful and deserving customers.

WHY SPRING SALES OF LILY BULBS IS NOT A BAD THING.

One rumor circulating is that Spring sales of bulbs is BAD. We market bulbs into early June. From experience as cut flower growers AND as gardeners, we can assure you that this is a very feasible and rewarding manner in which to obtain spectacular bloom at a time little else is happeneing, i.e, September and even October if you want to push your luck. OUR POLICY IS FULL DISCLOSURE in marketting bulbs in the Spring. If the bulbs are a little sprouted, we discount them accordingly and point out the disadvantages of over-sprouted bulbs. We absolutely won’t sell anything that’s only fit for livestock fodder, and certainly never aim to deceive the customer For late planting of cooler-stored bulbs, we find these totally appropriate for gardening purposes, by observing a few simple growing tips, which we share with our customers at the point of sale. .There is a chance of cutting short the growing cycle if planted very late, however this does not desroy the bulbs. It may put them a bit out of phase for a year, but patient gardeners will be rewarded in time with a perennial planting of lilies, no matter how late they are planted. Consider how much money gardeners spend on their ANNUAL ornamentals for the late season, knowing full well they will never be seen again beyond that season. Compare this expense with the cost of a $2.00 or $3.00 lily, which has the potential to beautify your garden in 60 to 120 days, and the added benefit of returning in following years, with just a minimum of upkeep and patience. -Even WITHOUT the added perennial benefit, this is not any worse an outcome than buying potted annuals every year for late-season beauty.

As always, our bulbs are guaranteed for the purchase price, if they do not perform as we describe.  Certain performance disqualifiers are imposed in the case of drastically discounted bulbs.