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Sweet Peas in Ireland in 2010
Click here for a pictorial report on Sweet Pea vases and bowls at Rush.

After the winter we've just come through my visit to the A.G.M. became the perfect antidote for the depression. It was a wonderful meeting well organized by Angie Gillespie, congratulations on a job well done. There were some new faces there this year who were welcomed by the Chairman, John Carrier. After the official business of the meeting was completed in the morning the after lunch programme began. I envied the owners of the plants that were entered in the plant competition, in particular Keith Brewer's Spring Sown plants which were worthy winners. Talks were most informative in particular the one on Gladioli and Roger Parsons’ one on some of the contents of the archives that he holds. If you were there I'm sure that you will agree. If you weren't , you missed a very good day.

On the 25th Feb. I went to a meeting of Sweet Pea growers in Rush. The meeting had been organized by John Markham and Maria Melvin. It was held to give an uplift to Ollie Clarke who had a very bad year in 2010. Thomas Butterly brought along Sweet Pea blooms which I suspect were of the Gawler variety. They attracted a lot of attention being so early. I informed the meeting rightly or wrongly that the variety had been discovered by Jim and Mary McDonald while on holiday in Australia a few years back. This was purely a Social gathering of almost thirty Sweet Pea enthusiasts. During the night I was able to persuade two societies, namely Balbriggan H.S. and Malahide H.S. to become affiliated to the N.S.P.S.. Hopefully this will lead to more growers joining the Society. The next task will be to persuade some of them to travel over for the Society's A.G.M.

Seed sowing took place in early October with almost 100% germination with the exception of a batch of Royal Wedding I had taken from the freezer. It must have been old seed when I put it in storage. I potted up the resultant seedlings in November. The plants were looking promising for the season ahead, but the months of December, January and February soon changed all that. No need for me to elaborate further on the weather as all were subjected to similar conditions. This was verified by reports from other growers. All were planning to re-sow most of their requirements.

Due to the hard winter there were quite a few plant losses, which I suspect was due to the length of time that the plants were frozen in their pots. The plants had the appearance of brown collar. It was also noticeable that some varieties suffered more than others. My Flake seedling was badly affected requiring a re-sow, Jilly only a few plants survived, likewise Chris McAleer's seedling Briget McAleer. Titan fared best being least affected, next was Gwendoline, Anniversary, Naomi Nazareth and White Frills. There is a similar tale of woe from other growers. Hopefully the effect won't appear on the show benches later on in the year. This brings this report to the results at the shows for 2010 here in Dublin.

The first show of the season takes place in "Ardgillan Castle" and is hosted by Balbriggan and District Horticultural Society. The "Cooltonagh Sweet Pea" three vase class for Irish bred Peas was won by Maria Melvin with Glasnevin, Zillah Harrod and Laura Landy. John Warren was second, also with Glasnevin, Zillah Harrod and Valerie Harrod. The other entry came from Chris McAleer whose entry was deemed N.A.S. as along with Glasnevin and Valerie Harrod it contained Anniversary which is not an Irish bred variety. Chris did win the Best Vase in show with his own seedling, Briget McAleer. Chris also won the two vase class with Glasnevin and Briget McAleer: I suspect that this vase was meant for the Irish bred class. I won the single vase class with Naomi Nazareth. In the mixed vase class John Markham won with Gwendoline and White Frills all the stems carried 5 blooms. John also won the Bowl class and the award for the highest aggregate in the Sweet Pea Classes. The class for a vase of Sweet Peas not grown on the Cordon System was won by Phyllis Owens.

The following week-end is an action-packed one, with two shows on consecutive days. The first is the Rush show, this show has suffered for the past two years with heavy rain during the day. It hasn't effected the entries but it does effect the attendance. In the All-Ireland Sweet Pea Championship the winner was Chris McAleer with Valerie Harrod, Glasnevin, Gwendoline and Briget McAleer, this vase also won the award for Best Vase in show. In second place was Maria Melvin whose entry contained Zillah Harrod, Glasnevin, Pink Panther and Karen Harrod. I was in third place with Lilac Ripple, Naomi Nazareth, Jilly and Titan. John Markham was fourth with White Frills, Gwendoline, Bristol and Valerie Harrod.. In the three vase class the positions were reversed with Maria first and Chris second with John Markham third. One of the bowl classes in this show is for 15 stems of not less than three distinct varieties Irish bred and catalogued Sweet Peas, again sponsored by "Cooltonagh". The winner was Maria Melvin her entry contained First Flame, Laura Landy and Chris Harrod. John Warren took second place with Zillah Harrod, Valerie Harrod and Second Honeymoon. Chris McAleer was third with Glasnevin, Burnished Bronze and Valerie Harrod. The single vase classes were well contested but it was Maria who took home the Trophy for the highest aggregate. The section for Novice growers also had a good few entries. Here Niall Coveney just pipped Anne O'Meara for the highest aggregate Trophy. Mary McDaid won the bowl class, Mary and Niall traveled from Wicklow with John Markham to compete. All are members of the Delgany and District H.S This Society will be my next target for Affiliation.

The following day it was home territory for me, that is the Dublin 5 "Heaven Scent" show. This was another great show with lots of blooms on the bench. Only two had enough blooms for the Dublin 5 Championship class, that was Chris McAleer and myself. I was fortunate to win the class. My four vases were Titan, Naomi Nazareth, Heartbeat and White Frills. Chris was second with Valerie Harrod, Gwendoline, Anniversary and Briget McAleer. John Warren won the Affiliated Society Bronze Medal with his entry in the 15 Stem two Variety class. The vase consisted of Valerie Harrod and Pink Panther. The A.D.H.A. Trophy for highest points was won by Chris McAleer.

The week-end of the 17th July it was down the M50 to Marley Park for most of us, to the show hosted by the R.H.S.I. Held in the "Orangery" of a walled garden, the Sweet Peas have ousted the Roses for entries and public attraction. Chris McAleer won four of the seven classes and most of the awards. He won the "Leila & Louis Smith Cup" for Best Exhibit, The "Col. Woods Cup" for Best Vase which was his seedling Briget McAleer. He also won the "Lionel Richardson Cup"' gaining most First Prizes. John Markham won a Silver Tea Spoon for his winning entry in Class One and Maria Melvin also won one for her winning entry in the Bowl Class. In the Novice Section, Niall Coveney took two firsts but it was Irene Dixon who took home the "Cruess - Callaghan Cup" for Best Exhibit in the section. Other entries were from Mary McDaid and Judy Moynihan.

The next show on the list is Malahide H.S. this is another show where the Sweet Peas are starting to rule the roost. Another spectacular display was on the benches. Maria Melvin won the Championship class with Pink Panther, Gwendoline and White Frills. John Warren was second with Gwendoline, Mrs. B. Jones and Pink Panther, I was third with Titan, Naomi Nazareth and Lilac Ripple. The Trophies that Maria won last year she took back home with her as Maria won most but not all the other classes: John Warren picked up the rest of the Firsts along with a lot of the seconds. That will tell you how close it was. In the novice section Phyllis Owens was the winner of three of the classes also the award for highest points beating Niall Coveney and Peter Harvey.

The next show was the Cameron H.S. who were celebrating their 40th Annual Show. Chris McAleer and Maria Melvin were the only ones to compete here but their entries were magnificent. Maria had a slight edge on Chris winning two of the classes also the "Rex Harrison Trophy" and R.H.S. Medal for best exhibit in the Sweet Pea section. Another show that has enlarged its Sweet Pea section, from two classes to six, is Fingal. I didn't get to this show due to family holidays but from all accounts it was quite good with a good few entries. Hopefully I will get to it this year. In late August at the Dublin 5 Vista Show there were four entries in each of the Sweet Pea classes: Myself, Ken Laverick, John Warren and John Markham. I've mislaid the results, my apology. At the "City of Belfast" show the only entry of Peas came from Roy Moore, an excellent grower, one of these days I hope to see him come down South to show or visit.

That was the end of the season for shows and time for preparations for the following year made. My varieties for this year are Titan, Naomi Nazareth, White Frills, Gwendoline, Anniversary, Briget McAleer and a seedling Flake. More or less the same as last year. The ground will be dug soon, the Chicken Manure added and the SuperPhosphate. May I wish everyone the best of luck for the season ahead. May the Greenfly and Mosaic stay away from your plants, and may the weather be perfect with ideal conditions prevailing.                            

Dated August, 2011

We are very happy to be able to bring you Tony Boston’s annual report to the National Sweet Pea Society for the very first time. Tony is the Area Representative for all Ireland and this report is about the Irish flowers and personalities of 2010.

Rush Photos:
Past Years' Shows back.