Leading the way with Dianthus
It is not going to be an easy task to choose just six varieties as there are so many that a grower could choose to grow. I suppose it would depend what the grower’s primary use for the flowers would be, such as exhibiting or cut blooms for home decoration. Well in my case it is exhibiting, but some of my friends and family are only too glad to see a break in the show season so that they can enjoy a vase or two at home. Over the last decade I have progressively become more and more involved in exhibiting carnations. I have become ruthless in weeding out varieties that are not consistent at producing winning vases for me. The importance of retaining varieties that perform well for me is vital and not being sentimental and retaining varieties that are not delivering the goods, even if other growers have success with them. However it is important to try out a few pots of new varieties in order to assess them. Then if they make the grade you can grow more of them after they have proved themselves.
The next consideration is, the date you want them to flower. I would choose different varieties for July and August to ones I would choose for September. So I will go through the July, August and September choices and just choose two varieties for each month.
July. Showing this early from first year plants then I could only choose two varieties, Schubert and Atletic Schubert. Both are very consistent, both did very well for me this year. I used 8 inch clay pots, and I must say this worked better than in previous years with 9 inch pots. Atletic Schubert maintained its vigour and for the first time performed just as well as Schubert. Other contenders for July could be Kristina, Heracles (Cariba) but there’s always a chance they may be a bit late and not be into a good flush till August.
August. Heracles and Kristina would be my top two but Ann Franklin, Max Hellawell, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Red Lips would be hard to do without. I use 9 inch clay pots for both Kristina and Heracles. I stop them in early February and try to get the first flush to start in July, this way I can usually get a worthwhile second flush in September. This year’s plants were affected by the very cold December of 2010, the plants were lagging behind all season and the second flush was so late that hardly any made it to the September shows.
September. There is nothing better than the family based around Joanne. Joanne’s Highlight and Annie Claybourne are on a par with one another in the self’s classes. They both have their good points and bad points. The biggest problem with Joanne’s Highlight in wet weather is damping off. The main problem with Annie Claybourne is fading in hot weather. Until 3 years ago I found Joanne’s Highlight far superior to Annie Claybourne, more vigour and better growth, the plants produced more stems to choose from. That was until I got a plant of Linfield Annie’s Fancy with 3 stems reverting to Annie Claybourne, each of these stems produced 3 good cuttings, so half of my Annie Claybourne the following year was from this new reverted stock. It was far superior. So if it came right down to it and I could only choose one then Annie Claybourne would just about get the nod over Joanne’s Highlight. Of the fancies in this family we have Bob’s Highlight, Grange Highlight Choice and Linfield Annie’s Fancy. For sheer consistency I’d go for Linfield Annie’s Fancy every time. Bob’s Highlight can be a bit course at times, it certainly has its years, and 2010 it was better than in 2011. Grange Highlight Choice did much better for me this year but at the end of the day it didn’t reach the consistent level of Linfield Annie’s Fancy.
Therefore my 6 varieties are:-
Linfield Annie’s Fancy.
And if I could only choose 1 variety then it would be Schubert because I cut a vase of 5 blooms for every show I attended from July to October from 14 pots. This makes it ideal for the small grower who likes to support many local shows.
Heracles AKA Cariba
Annie Claybourne ...
Linfield Annie's Fancy