Pieter + MichaelPieter Saayman & Michael Holt

Michael and I have both had an interest in plants since an early age, with both our mothers being keen gardeners this love of plants was encouraged and shared from early on. During the early days of the clivia society my mother took me with to their annual shows and with our first rare yellow clivia being bought the bug of pollinating and planting seeds started. When I met Michael I took him with to the clivia show and he was hooked as well. He managed to track down a lot of breeders and ordered seeds from all over the world, most of which did not survive as we still had a lot to learn about germination and growing them.

Some of our first seeds were bought from Rudo Lotter in 1999 and he and his dad have given us invaluable advice over the years. The following year we bought our first seeds from the KZN Clivia Club where we met Brenda and Etzel Nuss who introduced us to the bigger breeders in KZN and a great debt of gratitude is owed to them for all the years of kindness shown to us. In 2005 we met Pikkie and Elize for the first time and over the years they have become great friends and also wonderful mentors with the clivias, always willing to share advice and help out.

Every year we do the rounds traveling the country, visiting various clivia breeders and shows to see what is new and what is available, adding new plants to our collection. Until last year we were on a small property limiting the quantities of seed we could plant, but we have now moved to a larger property and can now seriously focus on breeding some of our own plants from the wonderful genetics we have been able to acquire over the years.

Michael’s favourite colour is the splash type plants, in fact Andrew Gibson is one of the plants that got him seriously interested in clivias and it was one of the most exciting days when we finally managed to get an offset of this rare colour type. I like the blushed yellow types and versicolour flowers with Four Marys being one of my personal favourites and it is still a treasured plant in our collection. Both of us also have a liking for the interspecifics because they offer flowers at a different time of year and new colours to work with.

With the breeding of the clivias we have been focussing our attention on the interspecifics as well as the blushes, splashes and versicolours. These offer new exciting challenges and our aim is to take what is currently available and try and find out which plants are compatible as well as try and improve on the flower shapes and sizes.

The best advice we were given when starting in the clivias was to first do some homework – find out as much as you can about a particular plant and its breeding. This way you can save yourself many years of growing and lots of space. Also decide on a colour type to concentrate on and be selective in what you want to keep and what not – remember it takes just as much space and effort to look after a bad plant as what it does to look after a good plant. But the most important rule is still, buy what you like and enjoy your plants!

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Pieter + MichaelPikkie and Elize Strumpher

Elize introduce me to Clivias 15 years ago and in 1997 we bought our first orange Clivias for the garden from Koos Geldenhuys. He also became my mentor for Clivias. He showed us pictures of Clivias and when I saw Boesman, a green throat, I fell in love with it and knew that I wanted to breed green throats. Offsets of Green Throats were not available in those days and we frequented the nurseries for plants.

We had a lucky break when we bought a bronze green throat from a wholesale nursery, Frohman’s Eden, in the Mpumalanga Lowveld. The colour of the flowers was good but the shape needed improvement. Nevertheless I planted all the seeds.

When the seedlings flowered in 2002, we were over the moon and put one of them on show at the Jo’burg Show. It was awarded Best Green Throat and Second Runner-up on Show. Koos suggested, Gunston, as a name for it since the colour was similar to the color of a Gunston cigarette package.

Gunston and its brothers formed the core of my breeding program for the next few years since I believed in line breeding rather than mixed breeding. Although the Gunston brothers were not homogenous, I divided them into two groups according to the colour of the flowers. The one group was burnt orange/bronze and the second group dark orange/red. The first year I pollinated all of them and planted the seeds but soon realized that like most back yard Clivia growers, I did not have enough space to grow them all. I decided to just concentrate on the first group of burnt orange/bronze. When the first seedlings flowered, the second problem arose since I wanted to keep them all.

I took a step back and took a closer look at all my plants .I identified which characteristics I preferred – bronze/brown with a large white and prominent green throat. I also limited myself to only ten breeding plants. None of the plants confirmed to all the characteristics but I could select some that had some of the characteristics From Gunston and his brothers I selected only Gunston for its large white and green throat and Green Tambourine for its colour. For the flowering seedlings I used the same criteria to select plants and the prominent ones were High Hopes for its large white and green throat and Dusty and Desert Storm which were more brown than bronze. I used these plants in different combination for breeding and planted only ten to twenty seeds of each combination because of space limitation. The most outstanding plants of the next generation so far are Mrs. Brown and Sienna Bronze.

In 2004 I decided to sell some of my excess seeds at the Pretoria Show. At that stage, I was still very much a beginner with a collection of mainly oranges, a few yellows and green throats. After selecting the number of seeds from the different green throats for planting, I mix the rest and sold them as a “green throat mix”. This proved to be very unsuccessful and I sold only a few. People seem to prefer buying seeds from specific plants. I planted all the remaining seeds. When I transplanted the seedlings after six months I spotted five unpigmented seedlings and marked them as possible yellows. Three years later when the first two flowered, I was pleasantly surprised as they turned out to be “versi-coloured green throats”. Since they had only seven flowers each, we decided to call them “777’s “ I cross pollinated the two and although they only produced ten to fifteen seeds, all seedlings flowered with similar colouration in 2012.

After nearly fifteen years of breeding the Gunston line, I am still amazed at the variety of colour combinations one gets and will therefore continue using the Gunston progeny in my breeding program.

The advice we can give someone who starts with Clivia: Follow your heart and collect/breed Clivias that you like and not what’s popular. In the end you have to care for and enjoy your Clivias. Learn as much as possible about the breeding traits of the Clivias that you favour - it will save you time and money.

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Pieter + MichaelPine Pienaar

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