As it is a quiet- growing wise at present, just waiting for the spring to arrive, I thought that I would reflect about why I started to grow Florist Pansy and Violas,and try to show that anyone can start again , and confront adversity garden wise.
This is me, picture 1, in an earlier gardening life 2002 when I hybridised, and showed Sweet Peas to a National level.
The first picture , is the grower examining the roots, still the same care and observation needed, for Florist pansies and violas, and for that matter all plants, the roots are so important to future sucess.
Second is row of seedlings cordons growing, Show and Fancy Pansies can still need support as they tend to become “lanky” , but nothing like the length of cane as for peas!!!A flower cane will do.
Third picture is of the cut flowers staged in a seedling class vase at an early National show in June.
The staging is much more precise than Florist’s.Stems have to be straightend, and flowers are left or right handed ,which enhances the “fan “shape of the finished staging.
The plants every year seemed to do well, and then in the hot summer a “Wilt “ developed,first a few plants then like a bush fire all became infected, flowers lasted only a matter of hours at their best and it became impossible to “time “ blooms for the show bench.
A progressive fungal disease, in my ground, which could not be eliminated -according to the RHS,( following an examination of my sweet pea growing soil in 2006,)- for decades or by expensive steaming , meant I was forced to abandon sweet peas for something else- if I wanted to continue with the challenge of growing and showing flowers .Move house I hear you say ? Try telling that to your long suffering partner.
The very first flower that I had experience with was as a nine year old living in county Durham when I would place wild violet flowers,growing by a beck(stream) into my shoes as I had read that the flowers made you feel as if you were walking on air !!!!! The sweet innocence of youth.
Probably against the law now to replicate this practice.
So I suppose choosing Violas was because they were very close to my first experience of loving flowers.
A fellow grower and personal friend,( perhaps the best exhibitor at present of sweet peas in the country, from the Isle of Wight, Keith Brewer), described this sweet pea “wilt” to me as the equivalent of having plant “foot and mouth “ in your soil, which I think is an apt description.
It was good to be a novice again and discover once more the joy of simple pleasure without much pressure.