(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.