While working through the seed register of the North of England Pansy and Viola Society I was amazed by just how many cultivars had the name R. Frost in the 'Raisers' column. The register runs from 1939 until the mid 1980s and the first thing of note is just how many are no longer grown. As I mentioned in the Census review, a number of quite new varieties have been lost very quickly and I am concerned that there is now no longer a National Collection for bedding varieties, this situation could get worse. It is my intention therefore to maintain as many of the Frost cultivars as I can, and get them grown within the Society. They are not particularly difficult to grow, but one thing that I have noticed is that many of his seedlings do fall into the awkward squad, those that need that little bit of extra care. They are those that if you simply leave stock plants to get on with it are quite shy in the basal shoot department come autumn, as I wrote earlier, Spring cuttings needed. That said there are some excellent blooms to be had. This is because Ray was a true Florist and raised his bedding varieties up to exhibition standard in everything but size. Not being a great self publicist many of his best types slipped quietly into cultivation and just as quietly out without many noticing. A very poor state of affairs, and I am sure that Ray did not really receive due acclaim for his achievements in his lifetime. Even if you do not intend to show there are some really good sorts that are worth a place in the border. Take for instance 'Betty', a bloom of which is used on a Society card. There is nothing else like that colour combination of mauve and purple. Its relation 'Alma' is one of the best dark selfs, while 'Woodlands White' has yet to be bettered in its class. 'Pams Fancy' is difficult, yet as the only true yellow striped variety, it is worth the extra effort. 'Woodlands Cream' and 'Lilac' are a little easier, both making good clumps, as does 'Tina', a cultivar with very pale stripes and suffusion. Much more bold is 'Janet' with its cream centre really standing out next to the deep blue. If you have not tried any of these varieties then I would urge you to do so. Not only are they worth a place in the border but also they are a valuable part of our heritage. I have used Frost varieties with very good results in my breeding programmes. They easily pass on their good points - very useful to anyone who might be trying to breed something special.
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