The year 2002 was almost unbelievable for our Victorias. We would rate their success at about 11.
One of the primary reasons for this was the weather. Though we had a cloudy, drizzly late May and June, the summer was ideal, with reasonable rainfall after our multi-year drought and NO tropical systems to damage the plants. In the fall, we did not have the howling northeasters that usually plague us. Through the winter we never closed our windbreak walls.
Another important factor, we believe, was/is the nutrient "cocktail" we have devised for the Victorias. In 2002, we broke every record we had from past years, size of plants and flowers, flower numbers, seed numbers, yield per pod, and the only real change from previous years was use of the cocktail for the entire season instead of just part of it.
We grew 14 plants to adulthood, fewer than in 2001, but had more flowers than ever before (264). Two adults never flowered, three juveniles died in locations that proved to be too shady for them and one tiny plant flowered when it shouldn't have. One of the adults that didn't flower (and should have) and the one that did flower (and shouldn't have) were cruzianas. Why should we not be surprised?
The year's only disappointment was that we really wanted to have two cruzianas grown from different lots of the Paraguayan seeds bloom and be able to cross them. That will have to wait for 2003. We now have several selfed Paraguayan lines to work with.
We were able to do something that we don't think has been done before, making the primary hybrids, 'Adventure' and 'Longwood Hybrid', with both parents grown from wild seeds. Wild amazonica has been available for several years now but we think this is the first time that wild cruziana has been flowered for crossing. We hope that several botanic gardens will grow these wild-to-wild hybrids next to our best domestic hybrids in 2003.
Toward the end of the season, when we had made all the crosses we thought we needed, we devoted some flowers to pollen viability expermients. We stored pollen "rings" in the door of our refrigerator (45F) wrapped in tracing paper and sealed in ziplock bags. We were quite surprised to learn that pollen stored as long as 11 days remained viable, though with gradually reducing seed production.
A highlight of the season, though we had to leave the Victorias on their own for a few days, was being invited to Toronto to present a paper about Victoria to the International Horticultural Congress. The "paper", "Adventure in Paradise", really an animated image presentation, was very well received and is on line here. It is 8M so we don't recommend it for those with dial-up connections.
The two subjects that we again want to address separately are "Roots" (about the "cocktail") and "Crazy Cruziana". Our nutrient cocktail continues to amaze us while cruziana continues to baffle us, though we think we are understanding it better.