Continuing the theme of bigger pots, I have been moving my experimental collection of potted viola into larger accommodation, since the specialists who supplied most of my plants say they need a deep root run. In fact, their website said a minimum of thirty centimetres, although I'm not convinced that some of their photos of container grown plants show pots that deep. I haven't run to thirty centimetres yet, but invested in a stock of plain, utilitarian but not too bad twenty-five by twenty-one centimetre pots from my local garden centre, and will see how those go. For the potting medium I am using seven parts John Innes number two cut with one part perlite, as advised by the kindly chap from Victorian Violas at Chelsea, who will be in the frame for any further additions to the collection, after the five varieties of their selection debacle with my first choice of supplier.
While I was potting I noted down how each plant was doing by this stage of the summer. Of the hybrid viola varieties, and leaving Viola cornuta out of it for now, the top prize for still flowering in the second week of August goes to 'Dawn', a mid yellow, scented variety that is still blooming abundantly. I am pleased with 'Dawn', and have to admit that she was one of the substitutes. Also pretty good were 'Fiona Lawrenson', one of my selections with cream and lilac flowers and a delicate scent, and 'Julian', which for some reason keeps cropping up in the lists of alpine nurseries, which is where I bought it. The flowers of 'Julian' are a vivid purplish-blue, and it has been flowering its socks off for months.
'Ivory Queen', another substitute, is still doing pretty well, with lightly scented pale yellow flowers. I ordered 'Beshlie', which is a stronger shade of yellow as far as you can tell from pictures on the web. 'Ivory Queen' is nice, but similar to 'Dawn', which should in turn have been 'Glenholme', 'Josie' which was on my original list had a few flowers left by the time I'd finished dead heading it, in a pleasant shade of cream. Unfortunately cream on top of two kinds of pale yellow has ended up a bit samey.
'May Mott' was trailing in the floral stakes, with just one remaining flower, though that was large and handsome, two violet petals standing above three cream ones with violet edges. She should have been 'Maggie Mott' which is pale blue. There were no flowers at all on 'Mauve Haze', not even any faded ones to tidy off, since 'Mauve Haze' shot its bolt and finished flowering weeks ago. So far as I can remember it was mauve when it did flower. It should have been 'Mayfly', which is white edged with blue and strongly fragrant, according to the catalogues.
The plants until now have been growing in classic six inch plastic pots, which they had fully rooted into but not to the extent of becoming pot bound. They have stood under a house wall where they are in shade for part of the day and receive sunlight for part of the afternoon. They have been watered pretty faithfully, and deadheaded but not every few days as I perhaps should for maximum effect. I am still feeling my way with violas. I am growing them in pots because attempts to grow them in the open garden in years past have ended in failure: the garden is too big, too wild and woolly and too dry for the most part, and violas ended up being swamped, eaten or dying of drought. The container displays at Chelsea every year are so pretty I thought I'd try again in pots, and the space behind the house on the way to the conservatory seemed a good place to put them, where the plants would get some sun without being baked and could be incorporated in the normal watering routine.
The remaining pots contain Viola cornuta, but that's a story for another day.