Gold Lace Polyanthus
by Terry Mitchell, UK
A Plant with a History:
GLP or Gold Lace Polyanthus is back in vogue. It has fallen in and out of favor over the centuries since it first made an appearance way back in the mid 1600s, and came to promienence around the mid 1700s. At that time, they found favor with the Florists of England who took them in and set rules and standards as to what the perfect GLP should look like. Then began centuries of careful breeding to give us what we have today. Along the way many factors have created stunningly beautiful plants but they seem to have lost their hardy ruggedness and many of the strains as they are known are little more than annuals these days. Grown from seed sown early in the year they will flower the following year. They are no easier or harder to grow than the common garden primroses and polyanthus that many of us grow every year from seed, or buy from grocery stores and garden centers early in the year as plugs or plants to give an early splash of colour to the garden, and planters or window boxes.
We are starting to see GLP on sale now alongside the primross and polyanthus - trays and trays full of them in varying colours from red, through brown and so dark they appear almost black, though there is a tendency for the dark ones to produce a lacing of silver rather than gold (called Silver Lace). Also pins are sold alongside thrums, the pins were and still are frowned on by the Florists. Pins are where the stigma (pin) protudes through the anthers where as in thrums it sits below and hidden by the anthers. Pins are not permitted on the show bench but for use in gardens they are ok. If you have a large tray to select from why not be choosy and pick the best? A good plant only takes up the same space as a bad one in your garden. I hope the following will show what constitutes a good or bad GLP.
Which plant would you rather own?
The plant on the left is a fine example of a show standard plant.
The plant on the right has numerous faults and wouldn't make a good purchase. Its faults include:
the pips are too small and are cupped (should be flat faced)
lacing too bold, uneven and with skips
yellow centre is pentangular (should be round)
dark body colour is patchy and thin in places
lacing encroaching into the body colour
body colour, centre and lacing out of proportion to each other
petals gappy in places
Another common fault is: lacing is a different colour than centre.
Terry Mitchell, APS and NAPS