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The Editor's Diary 2006
July

Brian Simmons

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29th. July. Another week of exceptionally high temperatures, punctuated with a few thunderstorms. In spite of the unfavourable conditions I have some nice pot plants, although a larger percentage have small blooms compared to recent years.

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1. Most of my pot plants are fully open now. As you can see I have a large proportion of yellows this year.

2. This is one of my best pots, the variety is Geoff Bizley, raised by Dave Coates. It is in an 8"20cm. pot and grown in Scotts Levington M3 Professional Compost, as are all my begonias.  The blooms in the centre are not fully open yet, so it could be at it's best next weekend.

3. The centre bloom of this plant of Vera Coates has already "blown" and will have to be removed. Luckily there is another bud behind it. But how many more flowers will be " over the top" by next weekend ? As blooms get past their best they become more fragile and consequently more liable to breaking off or petal drop in transit to the Show.

4. This is a 10" hanging pot of the pendula variety Firedance. Hopefully it will be one of my entries in our Show at Portchester next weekend.

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23rd. July. Following my report on problems with whitefly I have had helpful messages from two prominent growers (which at least proves that someone is reading this page). Derek Telford referred me to Defenders website, this states that greenfly cast their skins and this can be mistaken for whitefly.
John Hamilton said that he has had problems with greenfly in the past and this year has treated all plants with Levingtons Intercept.  "Any greenfly present soon died and plants are now clear.  It has the advantage of being systemic and lasts all season.  Also it is watered in so does not affect foliage".
Many thanks for this very useful information  

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1. With two weeks to our Show the heatwave has in no way been conducive to favourable conditions, the first blooms are opening up but appear small on many plants.  

2. As the blooms open up the majority of varieties grown as pot plants need to have the blooms supported and lifted.       

3. I am using the excellent adjustable supports especially manufactured for our Society. Closed they measure 16" 41cm. and fully extended open up to 26" 66cm.  Although not visible in this picture there are another 5 buds, so given kinder conditions this would make a very nice pot plant.  The variety is Geoff Bizley, one of Dave Coates introductions.

4. Around our small garden we have half-baskets of  Apricot Shades, tuberous pendula begonias from Thompson & Morgan. In spite of being in full sun for much of the day they are flourishing. 

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17th. July. After some respite at the beginning of last week the weather is back to it's cruellest (for a begonia grower).  For me at least this will certainly not be a vintage year.  The high temperatures and continuing problems with whitefly in the opening buds are having a detrimental effect. I just hope that our Show at Portchester will not become a victim of the exceptionally hot spell.     

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1. With less than three weeks to our Show the buds are quite prominent now. Today I have pinched out all the growing tips and also removed a few almost open blooms. Each stem now has three buds remaining, the first of which is opening up. The plant top right is Stan Kirby, a tall yellow that I have not grown before.   

2. First buds are beginning to open. In an ideal world they would last fully open and at their best whilst the second bloom opens and the third and last bud on each stem is almost open. The current heatwave is not conducive to an ideal world!
The next stage will be to insert bloom supports where necessary.     

3. Recently I have been having problems with whitefly. With past experience of having spoilt foliage through spraying I have tended to leave the plants untreated, this has proved a mistake. Now as the flowering season approaches I can see the detrimental effect of this tiny pest. On some plants buds are limp, swollen and distorted. The only varieties affected are Coppelia, Fred Martin and Powder Puff, all white or cream based. Unfortunately all three are also my bankers. The reason for this problem, which I cannot recall having suffered in the past, is probably due to the exceptionally hot and dry condition of recent weeks. Now that it is too late for this season I have found a spray that does not harm foliage, it is Scotts Bug Clear.   

4. These are some of the affected buds, the picture does not illustrate it very well but they are limp where the fly has sucked the moisture out.

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8th. July. Thankfully  (for begonia growers) the heatwave is over for now at least   Temperatures in my greenhouse were reaching 90f 32c. - not good.  Our Show is just four weeks away and these conditions were far from ideal.  

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1. With four weeks to go and temperatures now back to normal for early July I am watering every other day with strength Chempak No. 4 (high potash) added to alternate waterings.   

2. Buds are starting to show quite prominently amongst the foliage now, the largest about 2", 50cm. I am still taking off the odd one in an attempt to have the plants at their best "on the day". I shall be stopping the pot plants (pinching out the growing tips) next week.  

3. Side buds are being removed, leaving the centre bud to develop.

4. These Semperflorens and troughs of Apricot Shades will make up part of the front of our display. We used them last year to great effect in hiding the front row of pots 

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