◙►» Spellbinding: Streptocarpus Polkadot Purple.
JUST LOOK AT HOW AFRICAN VIOLETS HAVE BEEN TRANSFORMED INTO SURE-FIRE WINNERS
GARDENING isn’t just about mowing and hoeing in the great outdoors. And Dibleys isn’t just about streptocarpus any more.
Though acknowledged as the foremost breeders and suppliers of these evocative, funnel-bloomed house plants in the UK – maybe the entire world? – you’ll unfold a host of other genera as you turn the pages of the family firm’s new 56-page catalogue.
Saintpaulias (African violets), achimenes (hot water plants), various gesneriads, begonias, impatiens, tradescantia and coleus, now confusingly renamed solenostemon, are all listed and ready to adorn sunny window sills, living room tables or the greenhouse staging.
Those African violets have taken a quantum leap in form and appearance in recent years, from the plain-looking purple things we all seemed to grow back in the 1960s to the 1980s. Now, whether you select miniature, semi-miniature or standard hybrids, you’ll get a huge choice of colour and shape – singles, semi-doubles, fully double, frilly edges, star-shapes, trailers or uprights.
These dinky plants with the velvety leaves are surely on the brink of another popularity surge. And all low-priced between £2.70 and £3.30.
The streptocarpus, unsurprisingly, reign supreme in the handbook, with three home-bred newcomers taking centre stage.
◙►» Ravishing in red: This variety is Leah.
There’s Leah in deepest velvety plum-red trumpets and beguiling white border, Zoe in a rare combination of violet-blue flowers fading into a white-yellow throat, and Lemon Sorbet, rated the brightest, zingiest variety so far with months of continuous bloom.
Not forgetting the extraordinary Polkadot Purple. Well, what can I say? Dibleys, for their part, say “the quantity and quality of blossom on this variety is probably the finest we have ever seen and one of the best-ever bred on our nursery.”
A star attraction indeed!
◙►» Violet-blue streptocarpus Zoe (left) with the bright yellow Lemon Sorbet.
Years ago I grew a lot of strepts and watched as some plants sent up a succession of elongated and spiralled seed pods that were full of some of the tiniest seed I had ever seen. But grow they did, as they also did when I took leaf cuttings by chopping up the ribbed foliage into short lengths and pushing each one into potting compost, sometimes held firm by short lengths of wire.
As for looking after them, they are not tricky customers provided they don’t want for natural light. And do keep a watchful eye on the foliage as greenfly are the main attractions!
◙►» Dibleys, from Ruthin, North Wales, will be exhibiting at 12 major flower shows in 2019 including, in April, Cardiff RHS Roadshow on 12th-14th and Harrogate Spring Show on the 25th-26th.
Lemon Sorbet will be on the catwalk at Chelsea in May when Dibleys will be attempting to gain their 30th RHS gold medal – a sensational achievement by any standard.
◙►» www.dibleys.com/01978 790677.
◙►» The changing faces of African violets: Top left – the lavender semi-double Anthoflores Edith; top right – the deep ruffled red Buffalo Hunt; above left – semi-double light pink flowers with blue splashes from Ness’ Midnight Fantasy; above right – raspberry-frilled edges of Okie Easter Bunny.