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[18 MAR 99] RASE PRESS RELEASE
See The New 'Crusader Lily' First At Stoneleigh

Specialist plant breeder Peter Smith has chosen the new Amateur Gardening Spring Show, at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire, to present his new Alstroemeria 'Crusader Lily' to the public for the first time.

The stunning new variety will be officially named at the Chelsea Flower Show on 28th May, but visitors to AGSS will get to see it first.

The new variety has been named 'Crusader Lily' to commemorate their 900th anniversary of the St John Ambulance Brigade, which has charitable roots dating back to the time of the crusades. The charity has started an appeal to raise 20 million to buy new ambulances, and Peter's new alstromeria will play an important part. Every plant sold for 8 will earn the charity 1 in royalties.

Visitors will be able to see the stunning new plant in the Floral Marquee at the Amateur Gardening Spring Show, the Midlands' newest gardening event to be held on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 May.

The Little Princess range of alstroemerias, of which the 'Crusader Lily' will star this year, are robust plants growing to 12 in (30cm) high. They come into flower during June and go on until October. Once established they are hardy outdoors in most parts of the Britain, and make long-lived border plants. When cut, the blooms will last up to a month in water.

"The secret of their long flowering period and vase life," said Peter Smith, "is held in the flower itself. The Princess Lilies are sterile and therefore don't produce seed. In other flowers, pollination and fertilisation cause the flowers to die and suppress the production of blooms."

The 'Crusader Lily' is only available on a first-come, first-served basis this year. Plants can be reserved now for delivery in early May by contacting Peter Smith's Chanctonbury nursery on 01903 892870 or visiting them between mid April and September at Rectory Lane, Ashington, West Sussex RH20 3AS.

The Amateur Gardening Spring Show includes superb feature gardens, a giant floral marquee, free lectures and demonstrations from top gardeners, specialist nursery displays, a charity gardening auction and plant previews as well as trade stands selling plants, gardening products and equipment.

The event is a joint venture between IPC Magazines, publishers of Amateur Gardening magazine and the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

NOTES

Growing Princess Lilies

Soil preparation - The most important consideration for growing alstroemerias is good soil preparation. The plants need good drainage, as they sulk and die in waterlogged conditions. Heavy soils can be improved by adding coarse sand and organic matter to hold the structure open and improve drainage. Planting on a mound, raised above the level of the surrounding soil will help direct excess water away from the roots. The plants can also be grown in raised beds or containers.

Spacing - Plants should be spaced 2-3 ft (60-90 cm apart).

Frost protection - The plants grow well in any aspect. They need some protection from frost in their first season when planted in the open border, preferably mulching the surface of the soil around the plants with a 2in (5cm) layer of chipped bark or garden compost.

Timing - Planting time is crucial. Wait until all risk of frost has passed and the plants will establish quickly through the summer. If the roots are kept moist through the growing season, the plants will make good growth and come into flower readily in their first year after planting.

After planting - Pinch out the first flowers that appear after planting to channel the plant's energy into the main flush of blooms.

More Information
Rebecca Morgan on 01203 696969 or e-mail rebeccam@rase.org.uk or Karen Green on 01733 231 133 or e-mail Karen.jzreen@chamberlainpr.co.uk
   

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CWN / Business / Newswire / RASE / 18 Mar 99

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