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After the AGM held on 29th January 2018, Anne Augustyns told us that she fell in love with gladioli when she visited Harrogate Show for the first time, just a few years ago, and now grows 350 plants on her allotment. Anne has managed to win five cups and trophies at local Yorkshire Shows with her gladioli so far, although she claims to be a mere novice! She sows her corms in April/May staggered at two week intervals and plans to have blooms ready for her first Shows in July. The ground is rotavated and given a light dressing of growmore fertiliser. Corms are then sown 3" - 4" deep and 6" apart with rows spaced at 12" intervals. The plants are staked from the beginning in order to keep the stems growing upright in the open windy conditions experienced on her allotment site. She uses a commercial taping machine and aims to tie a band beneath the first bud leaves although one of her favourite varieties Rotary does not really need staking, in her experience. She does not grow under cover but is currently investigating how best to build some protective framework in the future as she recognises that perfect blooms can easily be destroyed by wind and rain. She does not spray or use any form of pesticides since she has not experienced any thrip damage to her blooms, so far. Anne has tried growing a few gladioli in containers under cover but found that the resulting blooms were rather stunted and of insufficient Show quality.

Anne buys quality corms of recognised provenance from Great Western Gladiolus rather than cheap, shop-bought and mass-produced varieties. Her favourite varieties are Esta Bonita, Bonfire, Rotary, Amsterdam, Careless, Cream Perfection and Flevo. Some varieties such as Amsterdam retain their vigour for several years but, generally, she likes to buy new stock each year, preferring medium-sized corms rather than the largest available size. After blooming, her corms are lifted in September/October. She snaps the stalk off rather than letting them die back naturally and then allows the lifted corms to dry off in a cool greenhouse.

Generally, for showing purposes, Anne looks for stems that exhibit a third of blooms fully open, a third half-open and a third in bud, borne on straight spikes. She will cut 20 stems from which to select the best six for staging on each Show day which is the reason why she needs to grow so many plants each year. She used to cut her stems on the morning of the Show but now cuts them two or three days ahead and keeps them cool and dark and in buckets of water in her garage. Stems are cut on the slant, rather than straight across, in order to maximise the surface area available for water take-up. Anne's normal and easily recognised method of transport to the Shows is a small, two-seater yellow sports car. In view of the somewhat restricted storage space available, she has designed special corrugated sheet trays to accommodate and transport her stems which are laid flat in the bottom of each channel with the cut end of each stem enclosed in a small plastic bag of water.

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