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Brian West

 Hi Everyone
I read with interest your comments on Brian West and remembered an article published last year in Pelargonium News.
I have scanned in the article for you to read. For many years Brian released his plants through through Mr Ivan Chance at Denmead Nurseries. However he has sold his stock to the Simmons family at Warrenorth Nurseries in 1999.  Andrew Simmons visited Brian earlier this year and can probably advise on the introductions released by Brian.
Warrenorth Geraniums, East Grinstead Road, North Chailey, East Sussex, BN8 4JD.  Telephone +44 (0)1825 723266
Visit to Brian West Hybridiser

 Brian West is a hybridiser who has raised some excellent cultivars in recent years, particularly new stellar varieties. Brian lives with his wife Peggy at Sea View on the Isle of Wight England and raises his plants in two small greenhouses, which are packed from floor to eves with plants, mostly of his own raising.

He has been hybridising pelargoniums for over 25 years, in fact he started at the same time as his late brother Neville West who unfortunately died some 10 years ago but not before he too left his mark on the hobby. Neville is famed for such plants as that good exhibition bi- colour 'Silver Wings' and his tri- colours 'Flarepath', 'Jupiter', 'Earth Magic', 'Treasure Trove', 'Saturn' etc. plants which have stood the test of time and which are still firm favourites. Ironically Neville was quite secretive about his hybridising, which is in complete contrast to Brian who with his little black record book will eagerly tell anyone how and from what his plants have evolved.

It is a strange sight walking into the first greenhouse for some plants look as though they are growing plant labels, these are of course where Brian has fertilised a flower with another and attached a plant label to the resulting seed head to identify the cross with name and date. He has tended to concentrate on breeding miniature and dwarf varieties with an emphasis on stellars. To show how complex the raising of a new cultivar can be, Brian illustrates the point by giving us the history of 'June Patricia', a gold leaf miniature stellar with a heavy bronze zone and double light red flowers. This superb little plant was a 1997 National new seedling award winner.

'The Boar' x 'Suffolk Gold' produced 'Sharon West' ...'Sharon West' x 'Jayne Eyre' produced 'Kayleigh West' ...'Kayleigh West' x 'Golden Staph' produced 'Brading' (A green leaf dwarf zonal with double pink flowers) -NB Brading is the seed parent of 'June Patricia'.

'Fantasie' x 'AIde' produced 'Pink Splash' ...'Pink Splash x 'Shelley' produced 'Thorley' ... 'Thorley x 'Golden Ears' produced 'Wellow' ...'Wellow x 'Golden Ears' produced 'Thorness', (A gold leaf stellar with single red flower splashed with darker red).

Finally, 'Brading' x 'Thorness' produced 'June Patricia

Brian harvests the ripened seed of his fertilised crosses as they appear but then saves them for sowing early in the New Year, this he says is done purely for economic reasons, it avoids over wintering too many seedlings most of which will be thrown away as from about 800 seeds sown, he says that he would be extremely lucky to find about five new cultivars with sufficient different characteristics to be worth persevering with. Before sowing, Brian removes the seed casing to release the actual seed then with a sharp blade just nicks the pointed end, he finds that this method leads to a much earlier germination. The seeds are sown singly, one to a cell in a 60 cell plant pack filled with a 3 to I mix of a sieved seed/potting compost and horticultural grit and then placed on a heated bench.

After germination, they remain in those cells until a good root sys- tem has developed when they are potted on into 21/2" pots of the same mix. None of the seedlings are stopped and as soon as the outside temperature is suitable, usually in May, Brian takes all of the new seedlings out of the greenhouse into the garden to harden off, grow on and eventually flower. Brian feeds all his plants with phostrogen.

In the second greenhouse I noted some interesting bi-colours, a good tri-colour which is still being trialed, some new cultivars with paintbox splashed flowers and I know that he is also working with p. quinquelobatum so that elusive yellow pelargonium may be in the future. Meanwhile although his methods may be in slight variance to others that I know, there is no doubting the quality of the plants that Brian is raising and releasing.

Mostly his plants carry family names but 'Vectis' is another prefix he uses for Vectis is the Roman name for the Isle of Wight and a name which is still used on the islands public transport. Brian has become a hybridiser of note and his plants are well worth looking out for.

Best regards

Steve Pollard

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