Mat, head breeder at House of the Great Gardener, met the Great Gardener once during an Ayahuasca journey. The old man with long white hair and a long white beard was seated on a wooden platform high in the sky, smokin’ a Sherlock pipe, watching over us all growing the greenery. I think he must be pleased with what the House of the Great Gardener has been up to lately. Barbara Bud went on a world tour in 2014 taking home 6 awards out of 6 competitions entered, now the House is gearing up to release the first strain in their upcoming CBD line. World, meet CBD René.
CBD René has all the flash of the original René with an added twist – a 1:1 CBD to THC ratio, highly sought after for the balancing effect this cannabinoid profile provides. CBD, short for Cannibidiol, has become one of the most talked about cannabinoids in recent years since it has been shown to have numerous therapeutic properties without the intoxicating effect caused by THC. Mat wanted to find a strain he could breed with his existing line of medical strains, tried-and-tested in compassion clubs across Canada, but the high CBD strains were hard to find. Finally, the Cannatonic turned up. Mat crossed the Cannatonic with the original René, and the result was nothing short of amazing. CBD René is a super tasty, especially medicinal, fullmelt strain with a cannabinoid profile of 6.4% CBD and 6.2% THC.
The original René is a unique strain. Rumored to come from a Himalayan Indica female crossed with a Skunk#1 male, she was bred in Montreal and has become a favourite on the West Coast. René is easy to grow, has a wonderful sweet scent and makes incredible fullmelt bubbly hash with unbelievable flavor and smoothness. The strain was elusive for many years until Mat was gifted a clone. He introduced the René to compassion clubs where it was well received, used most often to treat depression, anxiety and pain. When Mat decided to make available the seed of the best medicinal strains at the clubs, René was one of the first on the list.
Mat believes in serendipity and it seems he was at the right place at the right time at Spannabis, Barcelona in 2009. Canna Research Laboratories was testing cannabis samples at the event that year and Mat happened to be hanging with Jaime and the crew at Resin seeds when they received the Cannatonic test results. The Cannatonic registered a shocking 6.92% CBD, the highest value at the time, with a distinctive 1:1 THC to CBD ratio. Mat’s interest was peaked. He obtained a bag of Cannatonic seeds and began his own CBD project on Vancouver Island. His goal was to breed the Cannatonic with his medicinal line, combining the high CBD with the flavourful House of the Great Gardener strains.
Mat began by growing out the Cannatonic seeds. He found two phenotypes: the Haze and the MK Ultra. Both Cannatonics were given to the compassion clubs to test and the Haze came out as the winner. It fit the description of the Cannatonic to a T, and HPLC testing revealed a 2:1 ration THC (9.6%) to CBD (4.8%).
Mat femmed the Cannatonic and crossed her with René, GG#1, Warlock, Digweed, Sweet Skunk, and the Haoma. 50 of each of those crosses were started and of those 50 seeds, 30 of the best-looking seedlings were selected to move on to Round 2: Vegetative Selection and Round 3 – Flower Selection. Throughout this process Mat was specifically looking for all the original strain qualities but with high levels of CBD. The CBD percentages would be determined after the plant was flowered out and samples sent to the lab. Since these lab tests are rather expensive to undergo, it was important to choose wisely.
During this first vegetative stage of selection, Mat was looking for really healthy, sturdy plants, and in the case of CBD René in particular, it was René’s classical apical dominant trait that was being selected. Any plant that resembled the Cannatonic was discarded, except a few. Cannatonic grows like a Christmas tree and though most were avoided, some plants with this trait were selected – the really extraordinary specimens – because it is possible to have Cannatonic vegetative growth with René buds. Mat was hedging his bets. The top 15 of these 30 plants were selected to be fully grown out.
The next step was to flower out the chosen phenotypes. At this stage Mat was looking for the classic René popcorn buds and super fruity flavours and aromas. 5 of the phenotypes fit the bill and were tested via thin layer chromatography to identify if CBD markers were present. Three of the phenoytypes showed a pink dot: CBD René 2 (RC2) and CBD René 11 (RC11) and CBD René 7 (RC7). At this point, everything was pointing to the RC7. It was the perfect Rene bud with a ridiculous fruity flavor.
These three phenotypes were tested by the members at a few select compassion clubs, as all new phenotypes from the House of the Great Gardener are. RC 7 was the House and compassion club favourite, but when the HPLC lab tests came back it didn’t qualify as a high CBD strain (6.5%THC, 2.8% CBD). It was so fantastic though that Mat decided to keep it as a mother plant for future genetic projects.
HPLC testing revealed RC2 and RC11 both did have high levels of CBD, with RC11 came out on top with a ratio of 6.4% CBD to 6.2% THC.
RC11 was grown out, feminized, and seeds were made. Those seeds have been germ tested to ensure a high rate of germination (80-100%).
The final phase of the equation is to grow out 50 of those seeds to be tested, to find the percentage of seeds that have high CBD. Once the tests are completed successfully, the House of the Great Gardener will be releasing the first of a series of CBD strains.
CBD René was entered in the 2014 High Times Cannabis Cup competition in Amsterdam and won the CBD Flower award for highest level of CBD. Yes, I’m quite sure the Great Gardener is smilin’ and puffin’ up there and that he gives his blessing to the latest House of the Great Gardener release, CBD René.
Written by Sarah Campbell
Photo credits: Mat