Matthew J. de Wolf of Colchester, VT passed away on July 3 at the age of 89 of a brief illness, surrounded by loving friends and neighbors. He was born October 8, 1929 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to Elizabeth (Dietz) de Wolf and Peter de Wolf. He spent his youth living in Nazi-occupied territory and had many harrowing tales to tell of those years. Matthew emigrated to Canada in his early twenties, where he earned a degree in Horticulture from Guelph University. He spent several years in Ottawa, Canada, working for the Experimental Farm and then working in the gardens of the Governor General of Canada. He was also a private gardener for many homes in and around Ottawa. In 1966, he moved to the United States with his wife Ginger, the love of his life, and became a U.S. citizen in the 1970’s.
Matthew found his true calling within the garden center business selling bulbs (Dutch of course!) and became known as a Perennial ‘Guru’ at several garden centers including locations in Arizona and several stretching from southern Connecticut to northern Vermont. Along the way, he garnered many state and local awards in recognition of his vast expertise and he became widely known as “the Dutchman.” As a VT Certified Horticulturist, his knowledge, charisma and genuine passion for his work were unsurpassed. With his infectious smile and an infamous twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes,Matthew turned many of his faithful customers into expert perennial gardeners. He worked tirelessly until the age of 89 and retired earlier this year from The Gardener’s Supply Company in Williston. Those who knew him best will fondly recall his flawless proficiency of botanical Latin, and his insatiable penchants for reading, keeping up with current events (and always sharing his opinion) and completing intricate jigsaw puzzles.
He is predeceased by his loving wife Ginger de Wolf, his parents, and all three of his brothers. Matthew leaves behind his stepdaughter Sharon Perkins and her husband Gary of Glen, NH, his son Dr. Christopher de Wolf and his wife Maria and grandson Oliver of Geneva, Switzerland, and granddaughter Kaya of Vancouver, BC. He will also be deeply missed by his many, many friends and fellow employees who have been incredibly kind and generous to him over the years, as well as all of those that exclusively sought his horticultural guidance.
Donations to The Friends of Matthew de Wolf Scholarship are encouraged (c/o 476-B Ellsworth Rd, East Fairfield, VT 05448), and will assist deserving candidates that are pursuing a horticultural certification. A celebration of Matthew’s life and legacy is being planned for this fall. Please RSVP to Roses4vt@gmail.com to receive the details.