Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Some of this year's breeder glads

(See comment at the end about this juvenile seedling above.)

I have mentioned in earlier posts that this year I have been doing lots of crossing of glads. I thought it might interest people to see some of these hybrids that I have been attempting to cross. The first one above is a smokey from the Czech Republic called Castor. I was very impressed with this.

I have crossed a lot of 'blues' this year. There's no such thing yet as a pure blue in gladioli but the word is used to refer to various shades of violet. The Russian glad above is called Forces Heavenly and is an attractive combination of two shades. This sort of colour rarely comes true on a computer. I'll show you some more blues in a moment.

Another Russian beauty, the one above is called Taimyr, which is a peninsula in Siberia. The petals are rock hard.

This one is quite astonishing. There is no other glad that I know with such a contrasting picotee. This is called Jiri Vaclavic and is named after a famous breeder of glads. It also has five male and female parts in the floret - five anthers and five ends to the stigma - as opposed to the usual three.

Another rarity is Purple Paradox seen above. This combination of colours is very rare in gladioli. It's a 300, much too short for exhibition but it will make a lovely basket glad when I've bulked it up a bit.

Here are some more blues. The one above is called Storm Clouds, from the USA.

Above is Darren's Blue, another short headed 300 that will be o.k. for baskets.

This is Poseidon, a small 400 that I have crossed with taller stuff to try and get some length into it.

A golden oldie above, Blue Isle from Holland. This was from a Garden Centre. As it's still very healthy and at least forty years old, I think it is worth its place in any breeding programme. I was amazed to see some spikes that I also grew outside rather than in the greenhouse with 24 buds on and good length heads. However, it rarely holds the eight open necessary for competition so again I have put it onto glads with more staying power.

the above is a beautiful pale blue called Blue Ghost. Not a huge bud count or flowerhead length but a rare colour and perfect for baskets and floret boxes. I grew a lot of other blues besides these but didn't take photos of them all.

The above is a new smokey from Holland, called Buccaco. It looks a bit like another Dutch one called Antica, but is a bit paler, like a cup of milky coffee, a colour which the computer hasn't reproduced accurately. It has some potential.

Finally, here is another new Dutch one called Teamwork, a pinkish lavender that my nieghbouring allotmenteer Ken really liked.

I started all these and the others off early in pots around 23rd March and that way I have got plenty of good seed pods. I was flowering the early ones like the prims and some 200s by the end of June and so they have had a good time to ripen the pods. I was very lucky in that most of the crosses were successful. Sometimes a cross just won't work.
When you realise that a big seed pod can hold well over a hundred seeds, I am clearly going to have to do a lot of seed sowing in 2012. I usually get fed up after a while and don't sow all the seed from each cross, unless I think the cross could produce something really good.

One thing that both my friend John Pilbeam and I have discovered this year is that the more shade you can apply to your greenhouse or tunnel, the happier your seedlings will be in their first year. Being monocots, that first blade of leaf that appears is very susceptible to scorching and these little chaps don't like hot sun on them. So far I have had one seedling flower in its first year this year and I can see a couple of others likely to produce an immature flower soon. This really saves time as you can at least tag that plant as far as the colour goes and if it's really unusual you might get a few cormlets from it to grow on a year before you would do normally. A photo of this first year bloomer is at the top of this post.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The BGS National Part 2

In this part I thought I would just show some different flowers which you may not have seen before. The prim above is called Lady Fiona and was bred by Mick Jones of Enfield.

These three are Flevo Dancer. The one on the left shows good placement and six open which is what a 200 should have. The other two are overflowered. This cultivar tends to open very quickly so its hard to get it just right.

This is Ed's Conquest an American 200 with a very high bud count.

Beauty Of Holland on the left and Cream Perfection in the centre. I introduced Cream Perfection to the U.K. when I ran my glads business. It is a luscious sort of flower.

Three Careless, a nice exhibit that won the three 400s. These were a little short, a problem this year, but still made a good set of three. Notice they are all right handed i.e. the bottom floret is on the right. This makes an exhibit of three look really good.

Esta Bonita, a popular Dutch 500 that is very hard to grow really well as there is often a gap above the first floret as you can see on the right hand side.

Oasis, a Dutch 500 that can bleach out in strong sun and lose its markings, like this one. Nice and early though, so useful for shows before mid August.

Sunset Fire, an American 500, surrounded by Bonfire a Dutch 500. Note the difference in size.

The BGS National 2011 Part 1

These clouds are known as pilea or plates in English and they tend to stack up in the sky and look very dramatic. August often gives us some very dramatic skies in England. These were spotted on the A1 near York.
After a strange stay in a Hartlepool B&B on Friday where no one seemed to be around to provide the breakfast or take payment, I drove to the Headland Cafe for a breakfast sandwich before beginning the task of judging the British Gladiolus Society National Show. A few classes have disappeared over the years, but this remains one of the main shows to go to to see gladioli at their best, the other one being Harrogate in September.
It was an honour to be asked to judge the National on my own as it is often done by teams of judges. So many of them are also exhibitors that I suppose this year I was the logical choice as people knew I was doing the breeding of new cultivars instead of showing for a change.
In the car park I met my old mate Brian who called me over to look at a nice new seedling he had brought to show me. See photo below. I said I thought the parents might be Little Jude and Flevo Smile which is a daft statement really, but I could see traces of both in the flower.

As I expected the flowers were not as abundant or as superb as they can be, and it soon became obvious that many of the top growers did not have many blooms because of the lateness of the season generally. This has affected vegetables as well here in Lancashire.

Grand Champion went to Of Singular Beauty, a 500 from across the pond. I don't normally rate this flower as it is often grown poorly because the name is enough for some people to think it will win. This particular spike however was enormous and well grown. Paul Webster grew it and the Pink Elegance to the left of it which was Best 400.

What 300s that made it to the bench were not brilliant: very short Cream of The Crop and Carved Ivory and in fact there was no entry in the 3 x 300s. However, Trevor Fawcett produced a very nice Red Velvet to take the Best 300. Best 200 below was Flevo Smile. I didn't get the grower's name but will try to edit this later when I find out.

There is a prize for Grand Champion Primulinus and this was not the easiest award to make as though there were many prims there, lots had faults or were a bit overflowered. Several apparently had gone over during the night. Anyway, Peter Forrow clinched it in the end as his Shalimar (below) had balance and looked the part.

There were fewer baskets than usual but this red and white combination was a very good effort and won Best Basket.

Mick Jones from Enfield has a long and distinguished history of breeding very interesting seedlings and his yellow and orange prim won the Best Seedling award.

Judging wise it was difficult to sort out some classes because there was nothing really outstanding. Class 1 counts towards the National Championship and I awarded first to three prims by Alan Mumby, the first time any judge has given prims a first in this class. Whilst they had some faults they were a nice matched set and better than the bigger glads as a set of three. Paul Webster, for example, had the Grand Champion and therefore Best 500 and the Best 400 in his three but the third glad, a Pinnacle rather let down the other two. This is not a criticism as everyone has obviously been struggling to get some quality blooms. And then even after awarding these three prims a top accolade, I could not give any of them Grand Champion as individually they had faults. Thus it is in this judging business.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Judging at Southport, 18th August.

I arrived on Thursday morning to judge the glads at Southport at approximately daft o'clock a.m. having driven the 35 miles there on deserted roads rather than opting to stay in a hotel. Bad move, as I was a little bit tired by the end of the day. My fellow conspirator Eric Anderton turned up at about 6 a.m. and we waited for the central cafe on the showground to open for judges, feeding of, to commence. After a bacon barm and cup of coffee and much chinwaggery about flowers various and promises to swap this that and the other, we shuffled off to judge the glads. The poor weather meant that there were none of the usual Scottish exhibitors present. I learned later they had been flooded out a few days before. So it was down to the locals or near locals and much the same names as Huddersfield in the end.

As can be seen above there were only two entries in the Championship Class for nine spikes. Graham Anderson from Burton on Trent won with the nine on the right.

Included in the nine were these three interesting seedlings from an Andy O cross. The second placed nine belonged to Terry Morris. Included in his exhibit were the three new Peppermint Delight pictured below.

The other major class is the six prims. Peter Forrow won this against no other competition but the prims were better in any case than what he had staged at Huddersfield and would have taken some beating.

Peter Forrow and his six Lady Penelope. The other classes were well contested with the prizes spread out amongst Peter Forrow, Jim Moore, Terry Morris and Bernie Wood. Peter ended up with the most firsts which wins some enormous piece of silverware.

Apart from the glads, which were not as good or as many as usual, the chrysants and dahlias were down too. Sweet peas, however, are now grown almost exclusively in tunnels for exhibition so the quality was stunning.

The overall impression (above) was breathtaking but the two championship entries (below) were exceptional.

I hope to resume showing glads in earnest next year, now that I have crossed enough this year to provide me with a few years of seedlings, for that was the plan, and may well have a go at Southport. My plots are so late that I will have to make a really big effort to get blooms on time for this early show.

The joy of Southport for me is that I meet up, often for the first time in months, with many old friends. Ivor Mace and I belonged to the same gardening club in the same Rhondda Valley for some time and it is always a pleasure to talk to him about his PFs. I used to grow a few but now grow Borders and a few Pinks instead. I am pleased that other PF growers are now following Ivor in his production of immaculate large flowers that are not coarse, just perfectly grown. With Ivor was another old friend and expert grower, Roy Tudor, one of the most knowledgeable growers around and a gentleman. His Trelyn prefixed dahlias are now very famous and listed in the Halls catalogue. He had a terrific dark red collerette on show, exhibited by Ivor, beautifully smooth. If my life depended on someone growing something well, Roy would have the job. Always a delight to talk to. Others I met again , besides the obvious glads exhibitors, were Betty and Jim Linnell, Bill Wilkie, Chris Nightingale and Don Sutcliffe. Probably others too. I'll try and put up some photos of these great gardeners in future blogs.

I managed to source some Red Hill daffodils on one stall at Southport. This is a fairly rough but early Division 3 that I have won with in the past at the local spring shows when Div 3s are hard to come by. I also got a gift for my best girl, a rather nice silk scarf this time. The daffs planting and potting is starting for me now and will continue well into September. I've made a proper sandpit for the pots' first few weeks this year as I lost too many last year in the dreadful, prolonged cold spell. A bleary drive home followed and then a sleep before getting ready to go up to Hartlepool to the B&B ready to judge the BGS National on Saturday morning. All the evidence of Huddersfield and Southport pointed to this being a tough one to judge as there would probably not be many obviously outstanding exhibits. I managed to sneak in an hour at the allotments to cross a few more of my breeder glads before driving off into the night.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Huddersfield Show 13th August 2011

'Mr Chris': Best 200 by Terry Morris.

'Laura Jay': Grand Champion by Alan Mumby.

On Friday night I found it quite hard to sleep as I was judging the gladioli at Huddersfield the next morning and this being quite an early show for gladioli, I can never be sure whether it will be not much of a show with poor quality spikes or a full house with lots of judging to do, or anywhere in between. Plus I'd not judged there before. High anticipation rather than trepidation kept me awake. As it turned out there were just over 100 glads to look at which is quite good for an early show. At the National for example, on a really good year, you might have over 300 glads to judge but these smaller shows don't usually come up to that number.

So this was the Yorkshire Gladiolus Society Open Show held within the Huddersfield Flower, Vegetable and Handicraft Show in a nice big marquee in Ravensknowle Park.

There are certain glads that flower early and it's these that you need for a show around this time. Big glads need to be early Dutch ones like 'Sophie', 'Ice Follies', 'Oasis', 'Extasy' (sic). The primulinus types, like 'Marina' above in the first photo will also flower around this time if you plant them in May. The exact time to plant them to hit a show date is only arrived at by trial and error and the dates for your garden or allotment may be very different from others at different altitude or with more or less shelter from the wind.

My own plot is a complete pain in this respect, situated on the West Pennine Moors about 500 feet up with cold winds a feature in the spring. My dates are much earlier than most. I also have to 'bumpstart' in pots any glads that flower normally elsewhere in mid or late season, and then plant them out when it's warm enough. Even the primulinus (or 'prims' as the growers call them) have to go in early for me. If I were to plant stuff in the ground, it would not flower in time for many shows and sometimes won't even be ready for Harrogate which is around 15th September.

The schedule (list of classes) for this show is a little different from most and above is a picture of the Florists' Class, Class 3 'Five florists' gladioli, any cultivar. To be staged in one vase.' the schedule explains that these should have between three and five florets open and resemble the quality of flower one would get from a florist. Incidentally, a 'florist' was originally an exhibitor of flowers at a show. One of the oldest societies in Britain, in York, is called something like the Ancient Order of Florists.

Another class you don't see outside of glads shows is the floret box class. Above is a typical box of six 'Blue Frost'. In this class you are looking to catch the public's eye with colourful florets. They should really be all the same shape and size. 'Blue Frost' is quite useful for this purpose. As an exhibition glad it is not very good, being a bit wayward in the placement of the florets on the spike and having rubbish attachment: this means that when you stick it in the vase the florets can sometimes drop off. Not what you want.

This was the overall winner of the two floret box classes. Shown by Peter Forrow who grows lots of prims. The cultivar is 'Lady Penelope' a reliable prim from Holland.

Above we can see four more prims: two 'Lady Penelope' on the left and 'Laura Jay' and 'Sue' on the right. I gave the right hand vase the Best Exhibit award. They wouldn't have won that in a really big show but here they were good enough.

There were of course plenty of other glads in the larger sizes but we'll see more of those in the next shows I'm judging which are Southport on Thursday morning and the National at Hartlepool on Saturday morning, two very different shows.

Southport has big prize money and attracts growers from Scotland as well as more local folk. The National is where members of the BGS and others show their flowers for very little prize money but lots of glory. However, some of our top exhibitors are running late with their flowers this year, so this will give others a chance to do well at the National. I'm doing a lot of judging this year because I decided to have a break from showing a year or so ago and have been concentrating on breeding new glads which means working to a very different timetable and using very different growing methods. I will have to be up early for Southport as the judging starts at 7.a.m. I'm sure it will be worth the effort.

Monday, 8 August 2011

More pinks seedlings

This above was the first laced single with a lot of red to come from the batch.
Not sure what a judge would think of this.

The above one is a bit of an Eton Mess type.

A fairly ordinary one.

A double but not very consistent at first sight.

This has the wow factor but may not be round enough.

This one is striped pinkand white and biggish.

Rather plain.

Laced but not very round.