Leading the way with Dianthus
Regarding showing the season is now over for the Border enthusiast and it is time to take stock of the plants that we have grown and seen at the shows. It has been somewhat of a strange year and it would seem no one has escaped the weather conditions that have at times tested our resolve, warm weather in the early part of the year followed by monsoon conditions and lack of sunlight has led to many blooms being spoilt although I have seen many excellent blooms on the show benches and even checking my own diaries I have noticed that most cultivars did flower at the same time of the year as in past years, just the quality has not been there in many of my plants. Several in fact stayed in bud for so long that eventually the calyx burst and I have noticed when the sun eventually made an appearance the buds opened very quickly and the flowers were over within days.
So what did impress me, I really liked the new Border Baron Mystic which Phil Cross bred and exhibited at the National Show at Dobbies. It had the lot, good colour and excellent stems. Bofield Emily is another one that I liked and the ones that I grew showed very good habit and form; from the four plants that I grew I showed all four blooms, easy to match and a good colour for a Picotee. The strong grower from Billy Stokes named Billy Boy looks a winner, a strong purple colour with really good form and stems and looks a winner. My own seedlings have done well and there are several that will need growing on for another year to be hopefully grown in normal conditions. Some of the older cultivars still impressed and when you think some of these are over 75 years old, Belle of Bookham, Leslie Rennison and Alice Forbes Improved all graced the show benches. These pensioners can still hold their own against the modern cultivars and one cannot say that about the Perpetuals.
The best Picotees for me were Ann S Moore and Bofield Emily, the cuttings of Ann S Moore which I took in January proved to be very successful and quite surprised me that they bloomed at the same time as the earlier cuttings which were rooted in August. They seem to have fewer petals which if anything can be a fault with this cultivar in that it can be big with too many petals. White Champagne actually seemed to enjoy the growing conditions and for me this is the best white self when right, it must be cut young to keep its form as it is another cultivar that can become very large with age.
So now is the time to start either taking cuttings or layering your stock. There are many articles on both, if you are just starting I would recommend having a go at both and see what works out best for your conditions. Most cultivars throw up quite a bit of basal growth and I would recommend layering the best four stems that bend down with ease to the surface and take cuttings of the remainder. This should hopefully ensure that you have stock, of course you can keep the plant and grow it on for another year and be selective next year in which stems you want to flower.
I am very impressed with Baron Mystic, a stunning bright yellow with good form and good stems. It looks a winner to me.
White Champagne is for me still the best white self, its only drawback is it must be cut young and dislikes cold damp nights as they tend to cause the outer petals to curl.
Left: Belle of Bookham and even though it’s an old cultivar it still wins many a prize and you can see why. RIGHT: Sandra Neal is a large flowering cultivar that holds its colour and form well.
Of the many Picotees these two,LEFT: Ann S Moore and RIGHT:the new Bofield Emily are for me the best around at the moment, both are well worth growing.
A few of the new seedlings that bloomed this year and they will be grown on for another year to see how they perform.