August sees the results of the years work and is basically the countdown
to the flower show. The first week saw the start of the final shaping
of plants with stems adjusted to what will hopefully be their final
flowering positions. This is an ongoing process and plants will still
need to be adjusted. The aim is to allow each bloom enough space to
develop and be shown off to their full potential.
The feeding programme is altered three weeks before the show the
balanced feed is changed to a high potash. Again, fed full strength
every watering with an occasional plain water to prevent the build-up of
too much salt in the pot. The flower stems are now in position and the
blooms can be fed. It is a continual task to remove leaves and pull
blooms into position, but if this is done now it is easier later.
The final two weeks see the final positioning of the blooms using the
nbs bloom supports, this was quite a task as in total I used almost 800,
but the result is well worth it. This is a slow process as blooms are
easily damaged, and worst-case scenario knocked off. The supports can
be used to adjust the position of each individual bloom, but care must
be exercised in not over tightening at this stage as the stem can be
damaged resulting in the bloom rotting off later.
Getting pots to a show is another task and my solution is to wrap the
blooms in cotton wool again a lengthy task but there is no point in
growing for a year to damage them on the way to the show. The bloom
supports are gently tightened to ensure each flower is fully supported
and facing the correct way. I prefer to do the final preparation in the
greenhouse rather than at the show. The cotton wool prevents the bounce
that can damage the blooms in transit. If two plants are close together
in the van a drape of cotton wool over a plant can prevent damage from
foliage rubbing the blooms.
I water the plants before packing them in the van if required as the
additional weight along with the wide bottom pots I use provides
additional stability. A good tip is to keep a supply of new pots the
same size as they can be used to drop the plant into if the pot is
becoming grubby, a small point but presentation is awarded points and
worth doing well.
The final part of exhibition is to display them on the bench, I prefer
forward facing pots for two reasons. Firstly, I can display them for
maximum effect in my own greenhouse, it is payback for all the hard work
just to be able to sit and look at them late on at night, when for some
reason begonias always seem to shine. Secondly pots are almost always
displayed against a tent wall and it seems a waste to only see half the