Paul Lewis

Plant breeder-Crocosmias & Gladioli

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About Me

I'm an amateur plant breeder from the Isle of Wight. My initial love was Crocosmias. A packet of named varieties from Wisley had me hooked; they were Rheingold, James Coey and Star of the East. I became an avid collector of every variety possible and this led onto me curating the National Collection. Soon disillusioned with some of the new introductions,I decided to start and breed my own. I was aware of Blooms of Bressingham and their introductions, especially Lucifer so using the hardiness of Crocosmia Paniculata and Crocosmia Masoniorum, I combined these with the large-flowered hybrids of C Aurea heritage, mostly developed by Victorian and Edwardian head gardeners.

 

I had nothing of note for many years and then, slowly, the kind of plants I wanted to grow started appearing. I approached Bob Brown from Cotswold Garden flowers, just for an opinion, but he immediately saw the commercial potential and we introduced the African River series: Okavango, Limpopo and Zambesi. 

A few years later, we released three  more varieties, two becoming very popular: Paul's Best Yellow and Hellfire. Salsa was also in there but never offered for general release. The first two went on to get AGM's from the Royal Horticultural society.

Fast forward a few years and a visit from Rob and Rosy Hardy from Hardy's Cottage Garden Flowers resulted in me being put in touch with the Dutch company Walter Blom Plants BV. Consequently, the Firestars series was introduced at Hampton Court Show in  2018. The series included: Hotspot, Lava, Firestarter and Scorchio. The breeding continues.

Gladiolas have been bred for almost the same amount of time as Crocosmias but with less of my focus. It's actually quite difficult to grow a 'rubbish' glad because, in my opinion, they all look lovely. I therefore decided to concentrate my efforts on reducing the size of the plant - its stature - selecting a subtle colour palette with flowers in proportion to its size, that are as hardy as I could get them. Well, I think I'm almost there. I have put Gladiolus Papilio into the mix. Primulinus was already there and so I have concentrated on just selecting them for size. I've had some breakthroughs, particularly one that repeat-flowers for at least three months.  I'm bulking these up at the moment.

 

But, I've decided to almost go back to the start, using some of the original Species. G Tristis is the main one, with some of its first seedlings: The Bride and Galaxian. These are winter-growing plants, flowering early in the Spring, so I have frozen pollen from my best summer selections ready to be applied. I have also reversed this cross and have seeds to sow in early Spring 2021.

Contact Me

For enquiries please email vectisisle60@hotmail.com

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