Yesterday was too frosty to weed outside, - so I went through the Chrysanthemums that have been grown in pots in the polytunnel.- The job was to cut them back hard, clean off all the leaves, and stash them away in the seedling tunnel on fleece covered shelving until I start taking cuttings in about 10 weeks time.
It was also a really good opportunity to go through which ones were successful, and which ones are also rans, and won't get polytunnel space for next season. Here's my plans for 2015.
Heather James was the first to flower again this year in mid October. The beautiful bronze coloured bloom that I grow as a spray was really polular with the florists. I'll grow lots more of these in next year, and it also did well on my allotment, so it may get some outside space as well. Most of these were taken as cuttings in early March, but grow hugely tall, so I may do a 2nd April batch next year, and take lots of care with the stopping.
The Bronzes and Greens are great autumn colours that go well with most things, partucularly the late Sunflowers, and Dahlias that just kept going on my field, so the greens of Froggy and Anastasia Green, will also be on the list again for next year. Froggy is grown as a spray, whereas I tried Anastasia green as both Spray and disbudded, and the extra work to get the large heads really paid off with the disbuds looking really good and the spray heads getting lost in a bouquet. These were late starters and I only took cuttings on the 6th May, but they were flowering happily by late October.
The other bronzes I grew this year were Lexy, - which was a brilliant orange spray and had great strong straight stems, a bronze spider (name unknown), and Mayford Perfection. For the 2nd year running Mayford Perfection was flowering in mid November, when my first hard frost came, and even in the polytunnel it was damaged. If i'm going to grow it again next year, i'll have to think about putting some in my greenhouse, which can be heated overnight if there's a hard frost coming.
(L-R, T-B - Anastasia Green, Lexy, Bronze Spider, Mayford Perfection, Froggy)
Moving on to the Pinks and creams, - I had great sucess with Beacon and Pink Cassandra last year, and they proved sturdy and trouble free again this. - Beacon was again tried as both spray and disbud, - and proved great as both. Pink Cassandra was similar, but flowered 10 days later, providing great continuation. My old faithful - pinky purple Quinty, which i've grown for years was paired with "new to me" Lollipop. However this is a great variety, and i'll be growing the pale pink spray regularly from now on. Just like Quinty, it was easy to propagate, sturdy, and no leaf problems.
(L-R, T-B -Quinty and Lollipop, Stallion, Chesapeake, Pink Cassandra, Beacon)
My cream spider which i've helpfully had identified as Chesapeake gave me lovely flowers, but the stems weren't strong, so i'll be replacing that next year with Downpour, which i've had recommended to me as a great alternative. - I'll also be repeating Stallion, a white and yellow centred spray, which was a lovely filler for bouquets.
I also loved the pink fantasy variety, Fleur de Llys, and my cream American beauty, which were both flowering through November.
so which ones won't be given precious space in the Polytunnel next year?
Well, the dance series of late spray blooms, didn't top my list of favourites. I tried Pink, and White, (which was a murky yellow) and although they gave a good contrast to the round heads in a bouquet I can tell they didn't float my boat, as i've no photos of them. I'm also not sure i'll give polytunnel room to Dorothy Latham (Statham?) red, which although it was a bright and cheerful colour, didn't really go with the others.
I liked Feeling green, but it didn't propagate easiliy, so I only got a couple of cuttings to take, which means that the similar Froggy is higher up the list for 2015.
I'm also going to make sure my labelling is better for next season. - This year, trying to be recycling friendly, I used Milk bottle labels, and lollipop stick labels. - unfortunately both of these don't keep their supposedly permananent pen markings for a whole season, so I was left with about 40 pots that had no names,- these will be my pot luck Chrysanths next year, and will be put outside as a trail.
So that's my plan so far, however the minute I get on the Chrysanthemum websites, or when I wander past the Chrysanthemums Direct Stand at the first plant show I go to next year, will I stick to it?