The Royal Horticultural Society & National Dahlia Society Trials at Wisley 2004
That time of the year is here when we look back at our achievements over the last six months, because when it comes to our hobby, the latter part of the year was all we were concerned about. Luck wasn’t on my side in 2004 each time the joint committee visited Wisley I had nothing ready, or flowers had just gone over, and as I missed showing Charlie Dimmock at the National show at Shepton Mallet, for the same reason, all I had to show for my efforts are photographs, which anyone will tell you, isn’t like the real thing. I did go to Wisley however on the 20th of September just to see a couple of friends of mine Sir Bobby `M’ and CD as I’ve come to know her, well it’s a long name, and you can run out of label if you’re not careful. Now I’ve mentioned Charlie, I think I must convey my sadness at hearing that her mother is missing in the Tsumani disaster, let us hope she escaped unharmed, although thing don’t seem to good.
Okay the week of the 20th of September was a beautiful sunny week; it was a bit blustery on the day but full sun. Every year I’m lucky enough to go with a fella that knows the South of England like the back of his hand. His job used to be an area organiser for the Southern Electricity Company. So as I got in his car, flowerless I might add, and disappointed as I had nothing to take this year. I was relaxed enough to know I was going to reach my destination without a hitch. You can laugh, but getting from A to B for me is a major operation, add the excitement of sometimes having several exceptional flowers to load, I can I say exceptional, because when you’ve nurtured plants for six month, the flowers have become pretty special. Any way, with him driving the miles fell away, and we were very soon coming off the motorway and entering Wisley village, not the village it’s self but the road leading to the village. We turned off, made our way under the tree lined drive, and were soon in the car park. For those of you who have never been to Wisley; you’ve been missing a treat. We got out the car, and made our way to the main entrance, as we passed the large gates at the side of the main entrance, I thought, if only I’d have had blooms we’d have got in for nothing. I made sure I got in front and paid, well he’d driven, and besides this year it was my shout. I had to curb my enthusiasm; they weren’t all dahlia nuts in our party. We had a drink, the ladies were thirsty, and made our way to that holy ground they call Portsmouth Field.
First impressions, better than last year, well we’d had a much cooler year down South. Reaching the steps, I looked down towards the dahlia trials, loverly gubberly. It’s no good I’ll have to add those two words to the computers dictionary, that’s better, I might have to use them again. As we got nearer, the colours got brighter and I could feel the excitement turning me into a younger man. Forgot to tell you, the driver, friend and ex-area manager was also a pretty good photograph, and had a far better camera than I had, but in my excitement neither of us made a point of listing what we were taking, I very soon found out when cropping, and making his pictures and mine suitable for computer viewing, that a good three quarters were foreign to me.
Have you noticed the only trouble with taking a women to a place like Wisley is, they try to rush you, they don’t mean it, but after the umpteenth time of you saying “Look at the form on this one” or “ I can’t believe they classified this a decorative” it all wares a bit thin. I suppose it’s inevitable, were a queer lot, us fanatics. Okay enough waffle, here is my account of how I saw it, not from photographs, hearsay or what I’ve read, but face to face with the winners., and I had my glasses on.
The Wisley winners were emailed to me by Mr. James Armitage the Secretary of the Joint Dahlia Committee. Where the photograph are not giving a true picture of the variety concerned they will be replaced as and when I acquire them.
All the cultivars below were given an Award of Garden Merit.
Ann Breckenfelder: AGM (H3) 2004. (Collerette) Raised by Geerlings. Sent for trial by Mr G Carey, 30 Dylan Avenue, Cefn Fforest, Blackwood, Gwent NP12 3NQ. Available from Geerlings Dahlias, Kadijk 38, 2104 Aa Heemstede, Netherlands. No 67. Plant height 140cm. Inflorescence 10cm diameter, single with fairly large yellow-orange disc, carried above foliage; outer florets flat, broad, slightly overlapping and blunt, vivid red (44A), streaked yellow on reverse; inner florets green-yellow (1A) flushed vivid red (44A) on edges towards the base. Useful for cutting. Flowering from 6 August 2004.
Cherwell Skylark: AGM 2004. (Small semi-cactus) Raised by Mrs J Davies. Sent for trial and available from Mr F B Taylor, Taylor’s Dahlias, 12 Shawbury Grove, Sale, Cheshire M33 4DF. No 56. Plant height 140cm. Inflorescence 13cm diameter, double, carried well above foliage; florets long, narrow, top half revolute and pointed. Overall effect salmon-pink, with inner florets becoming yellow, flushed dark pink (48A) on reverse. Useful for cutting. Flowering from 6 August 2004.
I can tell you this variety is better than the photograph shows, I grew it two years ago, strong grower with a far better formation and petal roll than shown, but of course every season affects flowering in some way, and I do think our Northern growers grow decoratives better than cactus varieties, not due to their growing skills but because of the cooler and wetter climate in the North. In other words cactus flowers most times, are more revolute in the South, that’s put the cat amongst the penguins. Any way I had to look if I’d spelt revolute correctly, as the computers underlined it in red, it’s correct according to the National Dahlia Society, or should I say to their Classified Directory, and it’s correct according to the Royal Horticultural Society. When I looked it up in the Oxford Dictionary it wasn’t listed, I tried another dictionary, still not listed, which in my book means there is know such word. I’ve always had a dislike for the word revolute, preferring to call what a cactus or semi-cactus dahlias petals do as quilling, this also isn’t a word but I prefer it to revolute, so I’ve added it to the computers dictionary. I’m a little devil aren’t I? Oh you’re wondering why I’ve two photos of Cherwell Skylark? Well the first was taken by Stan Hall up North, and the second is taken by my Southern area SEB man and friend David Le Clercq with his super Nikon camera, when we visited Wisley this year. Not much to choose regards form in these two, so what was all the fuss about earlier? I swear to you I had this variety far more quilled than either of these. Perhaps the answer lies in the soil, joking apart may be my plants were grown in drier conditions? Did Wisley water it more than I had?
Fusion: AGM 2004. (Small decorative) Raised by Fa. Gebr. Verwer. Sent for trial and available from Winchester Growers Ltd., Varfell Farm, Long Rock, Penzance, Cornwall TR2O 8AQ. No 80. Plant height 100cm. Inflorescence 11cm diameter, double, carried well above foliage; florets fairly short, broad, overlapping, cupped and blunt. Overall effect white flushed pale purple-pink; outer florets white flushed pale pink (56B); inner florets white finely veined purple-violet (80C). Foliage is very dark green, heavily tinged bronze. Useful for cutting. Flowering from 26 July 2004.
Grew this five or six years ago, could be more, so it holds on to life, unlike some dahlias. I can tell you it doesn’t throw a show bloom, but the colour is unique, and the foliage is very dark almost black, which compliments the flowers. These are the kind of varieties that the public seem to cotton on to, and of course everyone loves the dark leaved types. When I started breeding dahlias I had a number of seedlings using this variety, all had the dark foliage but none come up to this wonderful colour. Little did I know that with the aid of the Internet I should get to know one of the Verwer brothers called Aad.
Gallery Monet: AGM 2004 (Dwarf Bedder) Raised by Pa. Gebr. Verwer. Sent for trial and available from Proculture Plants Ltd., Knowle Hill, Badsley, Evesham, Worcs WR1 1 5EN. No 149. Plant height 40cm. Inflorescence 9cm diameter, double, carried well above foliage; florets short, broad, overlapping, flat, fairly blunt and slightly reflexed. Overall effect creamy white tipped purple; outer florets creamy-white, lightly flushed purple-violet (80C) at tip on reverse; inner florets deep cream (4C) tipped purple-violet (80C) on reverse. Flowering from 16 July 2004.
If only the Bournemouth Parks department realised how good the Gallery varieties are for putting on a show, they’d use them on their round-a-bouts. I haven’t come across one that doesn’t earn its place in a bed, and they come in every colour of the rainbow. The best to my mind is Art Nouveau; it is a colossus among bedders. The one shown here is a comparative new one, that foliage was as good as it looks in the photograph, in fact better, the flowers were full with many buds to come. Unfortunately I had to crop it hard because in the shot I’d managed to take the side netting which looked ugly. I’ve seen a better photo of it somewhere, but for the life of me I don’t know where, as soon as I’ve contact it I’ll place it next to this one. There you go it was in last years NDS Winter Bulletin, isn’t it a wonderful variety.
Didn’t I tell you these Gallery varieties are brilliant, is it any wonder the nursery decided to licence the Gallery series, which is quite an expensive procedure to do. Periodically they have to send them back to the laboratory to check if they are still free of any nasties, which is also a very expensive job. Halls of Heddon have two of the best in their catalogue, and once you have them you’re not allowed to sell them on, but what a joy it is to save your tubers, and have a whole bed of one variety. After all you only have to buy them once, and if you look after them, you’ve got `em for life, I’ve got Art Nouveau and Art Décor, and I wouldn’t mine getting this baby. The last photograph was courtesy of the 2004 NDS Winter Bulletin, and was either taken by Don Sutcliffe or Graham Carey.
Grenadier: AGM 2004 (Miscellaneous) Registered in 1954. Sent for trial and available from Mr C Lloyd, Great Dixter Nurseries, Northiam, Sussex. No 111. Plant height 110cm. Inflorescence 9cm diameter, double, carried well above foliage; florets short, broad, overlapping, flat, blunt and slightly reflexed; outer florets vivid red (44B); inner florets purplish-red (59A). Flowering from 6 August 2004
NO IMAGE (But I’m working on it)
Jean Fairs: AGM 2004 (Miscellaneous) Raised byJ R Crutchfield. Sent for trial and available from Winchester Growers Ltd., Varfefl Farm, Long Rock, Penzance, Cornwall TR2O 8AQ. No 108. Plant height 130cm. Inflorescence 10cm diameter, semi-double, carried well above foliage; florets fairly long, broad, overlapping, almost flat and blunt. Overall effect apricot becoming paler at back; outer florets yellow (7A) heavily flushed orange (31D); inner florets closest to orange (31D). Flowering from 14 June 2004.
NO IMAGE (But I’m working on it)
Kelsea Carla: AGM 2004. (Small semi-cactus) Raised by Mr A Hindle. Sent for trial by Mr D Walker, 3 Cleveland Crescent, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 2EW. Available from Halls of Heddon. No 57. Plant height 140cm. Inflorescence 12cm diameter, double, carried well above foliage; florets long, narrow, revolute and pointed. Overall effect bronzed pink with yellow heart; florets pink (70C) blending to yellow (12A) towards the base. Useful for cutting. Flowering from3 August 2004.
Mary’s Jomanda: AGM 2004. (Miniature ball) Raised and sent by Mr D G Houghton, 16 Ireleth Court Road, Ireleth, Askam in Furness, Cumbria LA16 7EN. Available from Halls of Heddon. Heddon-on-the-Wall, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE15 OJS. No 22. Plant height 130cm. Inflorescence 10cm diameter, double, carried well above foliage; florets short, broad, overlapping, cupped and blunt, deep reddish-purple (71C) flushed magenta (67A). Flowering from 16 July 2004.
Twyning’s After Eight: AGM 2004. (Single) Raised by Mr M Twyning. Sent for trial and available from Winchester Growers Ltd., Varfell Farm, Long Rock, Penzance, Cornwall TR2O 8AQ. No 105. Plant height 120cm. Inflorescence 8cm diameter, single with fairly small yellow-orange disc, carried above foliage; outer florets fairly short, flat, broad, just overlapping and blunt, with reflexed tips, white veined very lightly with deep magenta (58A). Foliage is very dark, almost black. Useful for cutting. Flowering from 3 August 2004.
Twyning’s Candy: AGM 2004. (Single) Raised by Mr M Twyning. Sent by and available from Winchester Growers Ltd., Varfell Farm, Long Rock, Penzance, Cornwall TR2O 8AQ. No 116. Plant height 110cm. Inflorescence 9cm diameter, single with quite large orange-yellow disc, carried above foliage; florets short, slightly cupped to flat, broad, just overlapping and blunt, white, striped dark red (60A) on each edge. Useful for cutting. Flowering from 14 June 2004.
Objective: To assess, compare and demonstrate a range of cultivars, in the open ground, submitted by professional and amateur growers.
Culture: Propagation is by cuttings taken in March from pot tubers over-wintered in a frost free place. When the shoots had reached 7.5cm in length they were removed as cutting material, making sure that the base of the cutting was taken just below a leaf node. Cuttings were rooted in propagation modules containing peat and perlite, but most proprietary potting composts are equally suitable. Young plants could also be raised by placing several cuttings in a 15cm pot and when rooted, usually in 14 to 21 days, potting them up individually in 12.5cm pots ready for planting out in early June. This year they were planted out on 4 June and a liberal dressing of compost was incorporated into the soil before planting. A base dressing of 35g/sqm of Sulphate of Ammonia, plus 35g/sqm of Kieserite (a naturally occurring mineral high in magnesium) were applied and raked into the surface. Dahlias need regular watering to obtain the best results. Trial plants received the benefit of a full irrigation system and were never allowed to dry out. As the plants grew the amount of water was increased. At the end of June, the plants were “stopped” by removing the main growing tip, which encouraged the plants to bush out and hastened the development of the side branches that bear the flowers. The plants grown at Wisley are cultivated for garden display and most entries in the trial, depending on their classification, were lightly disbudded to give numerous flowers and an adequate length of stem. Dahlias are mainly healthy plants but occasionally they do succumb to virus disease. Infected plants in the trial were removed and destroyed. Dahlias are liable to attack by a variety of pests, aphids, caterpillars and earwigs all can be troublesome from July onwards and require control by approved sprays. Dahlias are also susceptible to mildew and precautionary spraying of the trial was undertaken regularly.
Entries: There were 152 entries in this Long Term trial of Dahlias, which were assessed by the Joint Dahlia Committee in 2004.
Records: A record was made of first flowering dates, incidence of pest or disease damage.
Findings: The trial was sprayed for red spider mite, which had infected some plants this year. Both June and July were wetter and not as warm as last year. As a result entries this year were later flowering, with the majority not flowering fully until the beginning of August. However, the warm, wet weather in August lead to vigorous growth and the trial then flowered very well, up to the first severe frost on the 12 and 13 November. From the 20 August to 29 October the public were given the opportunity to vote for their favourite cultivar. The votes were counted each Friday and the top three favourites for the week were recorded as follows.
20-27 Aug 48 votes) 1. Tally Ho, 2. Brians Dream, 3. Irene Ellen
28 Aug -3 Sept 92 votes 1. Trelyn Rhiannon, 2. Hillcrest Royal, 3. Lipstick
4-10 Sept 52 votes . Twyning’s After Eight, 2. Charlie Dimmock, Wanda’s Aurora I Twyning’s Candy.
11-17 Sept 49 votes 1. Twyning’s After Eight, 2. Freya’s Paso Doble, 3. Fusion
18-24 Sept 38 votes 1. Freya’s Paso Doble, 2. Honka I Tally Ho, 3. Trengrove Millennium
25 Sept 1 Oct 24 votes 1. Trelyn Rhiannon, 2. Pink Giraffe 3. Karma Fuchsiana
2- 8 Oct 41 votes) 1. Twyning’s After Eight, 2. Twyning’s Smartie 3.Ryecroft Ruby
9-15 Oct 20 votes 1. Hillcrest Regal I Irene Ellen, 2. Tally Ho / Freya’s Paso Doble
16-22 Oct 39 votes 1.Irene Ellen, 2. Trelyn Sunset, 3. Ken’s Choice
23-29 Oct 45 votes 1. Trelyn Sunset, 2. Easter Sunday I Weston Sunup / Hillcrest Royal
Many other cultivars were regularly voted for but did not gain enough to enter the top three, these included: Ann Breckenfelder, Catherine Bateson, Don Hill, Grenadier, Jean Fairs, Omo, Pacific Revival, Roxy, Ryecroft Jan, Sir Alf Ramsey, Staleen Condesa, Stevie D. Dahlias flower over a long period and this was reflected in the voting.
Twyning’s After Eight: was voted top favourite three times between 4 September and 8 October.
Irene Ellen: which was voted third favourite in August, continued to flower well and was voted top favourite for two consecutive weeks in the middle of October.
Judging: Members of the Joint Dahlia Committee inspected the trial at Wisley on the 17 August, 25 August,
9 and 22 September 2004 and recommended the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) to ten entries.
A Few More Captured by David Le Clercq’s Magic Camera
Should any one know those without names I’d be more than grateful if you email me.
Brian’s Dream: (Over cooked)
Ryecroft Joy: (Or is it Rainbow)
Finally A Few shots which sum up our visit to Wisley.
The long walk up.
The long walk back.
The building were you show your new varieties and also the admin offices. Wisley's means of support.