In 1990 seed was sown from the blue Platycodon grandiflorus that was planted in our garden.When the resulting plants flowered, one was white with very fine spots as if it had been sprayed and randomly streaked with violet. Some streaks and spots were very bold.
As platycodons are very difficult to propagate, other than from seed, I wondered if it would come true. Of the 15 plants raised from the batch, 14 came true to the parent plant and one was pure white flowered.
By 1994 we had some 200 plants, and although only a few flowered, over 90% were true to the original plant.
Platycodons have to be grown very well to flower in their first year, so rather than waste space and time pricking out hundreds of plants, we decided to sow the seed in boxes at least 3 inches deep and leave them in these containers for the first year. Although the trays looked very overcrowded with young plants flopping all over the place, the resulting roots were impressively large.
In our experience, seed is best sown in March or April and covered to exclude light. In our garden mature plants have been tolerant of drought conditions,their only enemy being winter wet. so we keep the ones in pots almost bone-dry when dormant.
There are a few plants available for sale which can be sent out in the Autumn of 1995 but until stocks are built up sufficiently it will still be rather scarce. all the plants will have been seen in flower before dispatch.
One of the most interesting violas released to plant enthusiasts recently was the variegated Viola 'Rodney Davey' also from RD Plants, here's the background to that exciting discovery.
One day we noticed a variegated seedling of something in a pot of dicentra. It was pricked out and watched with interest, eventually it turned out to be a viola. As with many species viola it set seed without a flower ever being seen. These germinated like mustard and cress, all of the seedlings were variegated, and the plants grew with great vigour.
Plants of Viola 'Rodney Davey' are best grown in semi-shade where they should self seed, we think they look good in pots and brighten up a shady corner.
Our good friends Ray and Lin Brown of Plantworld then took over production as we didn't have the time or space in our small specialist nursery to expand production.
Lynda Windsor and Rodney Davey's nursery is at RD Plants, Homelea Farm, Tytherleigh, Axminster, E. Devon EX13 7BG. Seed of Viola 'Rodney Davey' is available from Plantworld and T&M.