National Viola and Pansy Society Newsletter Spring 1996

EXHIBITION VIOLAS ON
SHALLOW SOIL.

[By P. C. N. BISHOP]


Having been persuaded some few years ago by one of my Horticultural friends to try my hand at growing Exhibition Violas, I started without much hope of success, as all the gardening experts wrote that deep digging was essential. My garden is made up of very light soil only 14 inches deep and below that hard, pebbly shingle requiring a pick-axe to make any impression. However, I found I was able to grow blooms quite up to exhibition standard by carefully conserving the moisture in the soil during the hot dry months. This was done by burying grass turves and green weeds from the garden well below the plants when preparing the beds in the early spring, mixing the usual quantity of stable or hop manure with the top soil, also a handful of old garden lime to each plant.

My cuttings are taken in late September and October, and are put out in the open garden, where they reold until transplanted to the prepared beds in March or April.

Two or three stems are allowed to grow on each plant and all side shoots are removed on sight. Buds are kept picked off until about two weeks before the Show date.

To obtain the best results I have found on my shallow soil that it is necessary to carry out a regular system of feeding with a good compound fertilizer, commencing about six weeks before the Show date and continued for four weeks. A small quantity sprinkled round each plant once a week, hoed and watered in. If no rain another watering at mid-week. Feeding should be stopped oldogether for the two weeks prior to the Show date, as it does not benefit the plants and will cause blooms of some varieties to come much too deep in colour. This remark applies especially to banded varieties, where over-feeding will cause the colour band to widen and become distorted, and the blooms useless for staging in a class for named varieties.

As to the varieties to grow. I have tried many new and old, and find the following give the best results :- Selfs: 'Helen W. Cochrane' (white), 'John Adamson' (yellow), 'Kathleen Condry' (dark purple). Banded: 'Moseley Ideal', 'Mrs H. ]. Milner', 'Woodsmoor' and 'Rowan Hood'. These give a very good selection of colours and grow well under normal conditions.

Just a word about Stem Rot, which is most troublesome to Viola growers. My experience is that Violas cannot be grown year after year in the same positions in the garden however much the soil is dug and weathered in the winter. Lime is certainly beneficial in checking the trouble, but to ensure having fine heoldhy plants during the summer it is essential to change the site of the exhibition beds and the bed for the cuttings each year.


Spring 1996

Editorial News Pot Culture Spreading The Word
Exhibition Violas on Shallow Soil The Future Staging for beginners Nursery News
Species Maintaining a collection



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