National Viola and Pansy Society Newsletter Autumn/Winter 1999

Society News

I received confirmation in August that my collection of Florists Cultivars of Violas and Pansies has been awarded a full national status by the N.C.C.P.G. I hope that this will bring the Show and Fancy Pansies and Exhibition Violas to the notice of many more people, and hopefully encourage a few to take up their cultivation.

While not to everyone's taste, and of dubious garden merit, these plants are part of the plant heritage and this must be worthy of conservation. However, I feel that this is not enough in itself, and thus do proceed with my breeding work. This is important as it is the nature of many highly bred exhibition plants to decline in vigour and fall prey to virus and inevitable extinction. Show Auriculas for example. It is the same for the pansies and violas. Chance alone is not, I think, responsible for the fact that 'Elizabeth McCallum' remains our oldest Fancy Pansy (1934). Having grown the majority of available varieties, I can testify to the variation in vigour between cultivars. 'Bishops Belle' now over 30 years old continues to grow in robust fashion, but what of its contemporary 'Jessie Taylor' which is much more difficult to keep going. 'Moseley Ideal' our oldest viola hardly produces Show quality blooms any longer, nor does its sport 'Cox's Moseley' . So then historic plants are not enough on their own, and as a florist I should be attempting to produce new varieties within the framework of the standards laid down for each type.

Which brings me neatly onto ..

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