This article was written and first published in 1992.
I received the dreaded phone call in early April - Bill Wade tracked me down and asked if I could put together something on early incurves.
"Only two thousand words and a picture or two if you've got them," he said.
It sounded simple at the time, with four months or so before it was required. Whatever made him think I was qualified to write such an article I'll never know -- he must be desperate. I knew that I was going to have problems when I looked through ten years' Panoramas, Year Books and Bulletins to get some clues from earlier articles -- would you believe that no-one has written about early incurves over this period (best in show vases excepted). I now know why! There isn't a lot that can be written about early incurves, after all, as the table below shows, there have only been eight cultivars shown more than once at Early National Shows since 1986 when the first Silver Medal was awarded for the best vase of incurves. Since then, Peter Rowe has been the winning cultivar every year except 1988 when Gillette took the award and, of course, this year (1992) when Egret took it.
There have also been a number of "one year wonders," no doubt elegantly described in raisers' catalogues, but failing to meet the test of time.
Peter Rowe, to date the most successful and widely exhibited early incurve is, by late incurve standards, only second rate. It has a tendency to show damping in its lower petals, although my experience shows that when grown in pots, 3 up, this becomes less of a problem.
Looking at the future of early incurves. I think we may have witnessed two significant events, one clearly positive in its impact, the other yet to be determined. The positive event is the arrival of Max Riley on the incurve scene, a cultivar which is easy to grow and with no bad habits to speak of. A look at the table shows 'Max' to be the most widely exhibited incurve cultivar at the 1991 National. It can only be a matter of time before the best incurve award goes to a vase of Max Riley, I just hope it is mine!
The second event is the trial period for exhibiting blooms irrespective of early or late classification. This may open the floodgates for late incurves to be shown at September shows. I have to admit I have six pots of John Hughes in my garden in an attempt to get a flower by mid September. However, I have yet to be fully convinced of the merits of this development, but if we can't get a range of naturally early flowering quality incurves then perhaps this move by the N.C.S. could prove to be a reasonable alternative -- for incurves at least, I make no comment on other sections.
Incurved cultivars are not seen in large numbers - this link will take you to the
I have been growing early incurves every year since 1983. Peter Rowe has been ever-present, but other cultivars have been tried out; Alison Kirk, Lynmal's Choice, Liverpool Festival and Ann Brook to name just a few. Peter Rowe has probably been my most consistent and successful cultivar over the years. Until last year I had always grown it 3 up in a 9" pot, using both soilless and soil-based composts, but 1991 was different. I moved house on 5th April so all plants had been rooted at my old house and potted on through to 5" pots before the move took place. My immediate problem on arrival was to prepare the ground and get my new greenhouse erected. All my earlies were grown in beds under glass from start to finish, so while I had control over watering, I also had some very high temperatures to cope with during August.
For those readers who may be interested, I list my 1991 dates for Peter Rowe cultivation:-
Feeding was Vitafeed 3-0-1, three feeds at weekly intervals during June. The compost for rooting and up to 5" pots was Levington. Base dressing was 3oz Vitax Q4 to the square yard. Bud bags were used until filled by the expanding petals, after which they developed without further bag protection. Some damping occurred during August after blooms were about one third out, but these petals were removed with minimum effect on the bloom overall. Ten plants only were grown and the first five blooms cut were the ones taken to the National and were awarded the Silver Medal.
Looking to the future now - how can we promote early incurves to make them more attractive to grow? My view is that having introduced a class at the Early National for 3 vases of five incurves and/or intermediates we could probably go one further and have a multi-vase class for incurves only, say 3 vases of three to start with. This would overcome what I see as the main obstacle to growing incurves, which is the problem of having to compete directly with the other sections (24 and 25), both of which are very strong in the early section.
So, N.C.S., are you listening?
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Last updated on 21 January, 2002