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-
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-
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-
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 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.
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.