SEAN CHUBB Producing Clivia with pedigree Specialising in colour breeding INSPIRED BY DIVERSITY
The interest in Clivia started at an early age while attending high school at Hilton College. Sean would collect and grow Clivia seed found growing wild in the forest. The real passion for Clivia colour breeding began in 1987 with a Peach plant subsequently named Chubb Peach.
With a taste for the unusual and uncommon Sean’s efforts in breeding Clivia has concentrated on breeding and perpetuating rare colours and colour combinations. With a good grounding in Genetics and a practical approach to Clivia breeding Sean’s passion for perpetuating rare colour forms has resulted in numerous pure breeding line bred families of rare Clivia colours being commercially available.
Sean is also passionate about conserving Clivia history and has probably the most complete collection of Wild occurring Clivia mutations and colour forms. An important part of the Clivia collection at Thurlow Flora is “The Clivia Heritage Collection”, a Living collection of rare historical plants. This is a conservation effort to preserve rare Clivia forms and thus Clivia History.
Sean is a showman and enjoys entering Clivia on the various Clivia Shows held in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Since 1994 Sean has entered the annual Miniata show and every year Thurlow Flora has won numerous awards with many Best on Shows as well as runner-up best on shows. Sean has also won the showman of the year award many times. Not only has Sean won numerous awards on the miniata shows but also dominates the awards at the annual Interspecific and Gardenii/Robusta shows held in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Some shows entering as many as 60 plants.
Thurlow Flora is a specialised Clivia nursery growing Clivia plants with pedigree and specialising in colour breeding. Situated in Eston, predominantly a sugar and timber growing farming area. The climate is warm in the summers with night temperatures cooling, rainfall of about 1000mm per annum. Thurlow Flora experiences a high number of cool misty mornings and sometimes whole days. In the winter the night temperatures are generally below 10 C but seldom experiencing frost. This climate has proved to be ideal for all Clivia species. A long flowering period is experienced in all species and seems not only to be due to the Climate but also the genetic make-up of the different Varieties. The different varieties seem to follow the same sequence of flowering each year. The Chubb Pretty Pinks are always the first to flower from Mid-August and normally ending with the Natal Yellows in Mid-October. The peak flowering being the middle of September.
Thurlow Flora has a Hectare of Clivia under80% shadecloth and is divided into 4 distinct growing areas.
The most spectacular area is the Mother plant collection where all the breeding and show plants are kept. This area is neatly set out with the different varieties grouped in the colours. An awesome sight when the Miniata are in full flower. Areas are also designated for the pendulous species as well as an impressive collection of interspecific hybrids.
The Habitat Heritage collection forms part of this same shade house but in a completely separate area. This area is naturally landscaped and is both a Living Museum and a Captive breeding facility. All the Habitat Heritage plants are planted in pots which are concealed to give the natural forest effect. These pots also make it easy to move plants out of this area into a more controlled environment while plants are being pollinated. Many plants which would naturally grow with Clivia in the wild are also planted in this area.
The largest area is the seedling growing area with an adjoining despatch shed which also doubles as a show hall and potting shed. In this area all seedlings are grown to flowering. These plants are planted in 4 ½ lt bags at 1 year old and kept in their same bags until flowering. Most plants flower at 4 year or earlier and so very little re-bagging is necessary. All seedlings are grown in the same medium and same size bags which eases management as all are treated in the same manner. Due to an ideal Clivia growing climate no irrigation has is necessary in this shade-house.
The last growing area is a germination room with a controlled environment. Seen trays are heated from underneath by heated rubber mats normally used in piggeries to keep piglets warm. The temperature in this room is kept at 22 C with 18hours of light per day. Seeds are normally planted in mid-winter [July] and kept in this area for about a year. These ideal growing conditions result in 40% of our seedlings flowering at 3yrs and up to 90% having flowered by 4years old.
Nursery management is minimal and 1 full time staff member is employed with another 2 part time employees in flowering season.
Seedlings are selected at flowering time using these main selection criteria:
- Vigour. - Colour, Pattern and colour intensity. - Individual flower shape and size. - Umbel size and shape at first flowering. - Plant shape and leaf quality.
Plants kept for future breeding must have the WOW factor.
Each year the colour groups are evaluated and decisions are made on quantity of plants required per variety. Of each variety some new seedling will be selected and the poorest of the older breeding plants will be removed from the breeding group. This way the overall quality of each variety is constantly improving. The older breeding plants are planted under the trees in the garden. Previous year’s show winners have been known to be planted in the Clivia beds under the forest canopy in Thurlow garden.
A passion for perpetuating rare colour variations in Clivia has produced many line bred families of Clivia. A full range of colour, form and size can be found in the collection from “Big Mamas” to the “Skinny little Guys”. This is a truly diverse collection with probably the biggest gene pool of any collection of Clivia. The Diversity is truly inspirational.
Sean Chubb has prolifically produced new line bred colours of Clivia for some years now and to date cannot be rivalled by any other breeder. The colour varieties of Clivia produced by Thurlow Flora can be found in collections across the world. Having bred particular colours for many years now there has been a vast improvement in quality of plant produced by Thurlow flora, some line bred colours are on the 4th and 5th generation of breeding.
Thurlow Flora The year time line is as follows:
- September – Pollination – all pollination is done with breeding for own use in mind. Not all breeding plants are pollinated each year, only certain lines are used every year. All plants to be pollinated are removed from the shade-house to a secure area where there is no wind or insect interference. All plants are hand pollinated in order to guarantee parentage of resulting seed.
- January seed stock take. As Clivia are extremely generous plants as far a seed production is concerned, invariably there are plenty of excess seed. These are marketed through KZN Clivia Breeders.
- Seed sales begin April with seed being despatched in July. Excess seed is marketed until end of September.
- July – own seed planted in controlled environment room.
- August – own seedlings are planted out into 4 ½ lt bags into the growing area.
- September – during flowering season seedlings are selected as future breeding plants. A star rating system has proved to be very useful. Plants are rated from 1* to 5* depending on quality. 5* being the best quality normally kept for breeding. Because we are always trying to improve our breeding stock it has become necessary to rate some seedlings as 6* since they are an improvement on the plants rated 5* in previous years. Hopefully as time goes on we will reach 10 and 20* plants. This rating system allows one to have a very good idea of the plant quality even when not in flower. Whilst selecting sales plants there are invariably some which could be keepers or for sale , these are normally selected out of the sales plants by our staff and placed in a 2nd Chance area . Here they are allowed to flower again and checked for quality. This is where the 2nd chance seed is derived from as most of these plants are self-pollinated.
Some of the true breeding varieties which have been produced by Sean Chubb are:
Chubb Peach – originally bred from a habitat plant which was Peach in colour. These Light Peaches can be bred with Group 1 Yellows and produce Peach flowering seedlings. This was a great advantage since a high selection pressure could be placed on the seedlings and thus achieved a fairly rapid genetic improvement.
Chubb Pretty Pink – Originally bred from a habitat plant Wittig Pink. This variety has been marketed for some years now and has proved to be very popular. This variety flowers early in the season.
Chubb Splash – Originally bred from a habitat plant named Andrew Gibson this variety is basically yellow with red splashes on the back of the petals. The contrasting colours makes this unusual variety very popular.
Chiffon Daughters – Originally bred from a full throated plant named Roly`s Chiffon this is a colour pattern rather than a mutation making the breeding of this variety fairly easy. These plants improve every year in colour, flower quality and umbel size. A stunning variety , very striking.
Chubb Fantasy Series – Very Feminine dainty Pink and yellow flowers originally bred from a habitat pink named Ndwedwe Pink Fantasy. A fairly variable variety.
Chubb `95 Series dark orange red – Stunning reds with semi broad dark green leaves. These plants have never failed to win when entered on shows.
Chubb Pastel Blush – Bred from Natal Yellow and Naude Peach these pastel flowers blush with pink as they age and are most attractive. Often the pastel Blushes display a yellow line on the sepals of the flowers, unusual.
Chubb Versicolours and Blushed Yellows – These are Naude Peach F3 generation plants and are proving to be a brilliant line.
Group 3 Yellows – yellow flowering plants which produce red seed pods and are pigmented seedlings. Originally bred from Celtiskloof yellow but now Oribi Gorge Yellow Genetics are helping to improve this variety greatly.
There are numerous other varieties being produced in lower numbers and more recently a super range of interspecific are being produced.
To Visit Thurlow Flora during August , September and October has left many visitors amazed by the diversity and variation to be found in the Clivia miniata collection at the nursery. With the enormous genetic gene pool that makes up the Thurlow flora collection, variation and diversity are the norm. A full range of colour, form and size can be found in the collection.