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Members & their Greenhouses
Lakin Earl
Lakin has been growing begonias for over 40 years, following a lifetime in horticulture, many years with a local authority.  His greenhouses are to be found in Highbridge, Somerset, close to the coast , so one of the problems he encounters is high winds which sometimes vacuum up debris of sand and grit from the beach.

   Lakin has an affinity with the soil and understands all the various aspect of successful growing.  He grows mainly multi stem begonias together with some selected foliage plants.  He has two greenhouses size 8' x 10' and 12' x 8'.  A particular feature is his overspill gazebo which has proved very successful.  It is remarkable that it has survived this year with the gales, although it has been a close call at times.  It was quite noticeable that plants grown or moved out there to harden have a much more vivid colour to be almost unrecognisable to those cultivated in a greeenhouse.  Any member would be proud to grow the quality of plants Lakin has in his gazebo.
   The exhibition plants are grown in loam and the balance in soil-less compost with a generous helping of Bideford grit.  It was noticeable that in the greenhouse he grows his plants on staging with a sand base, which is kept damp and wet, rather than the conventional open wood slatted staging.  Lakin contends that this is beneficial in the hot weather and assists with the humidity.  From the results he obtains, perhaps others should consider this method.
   At the time of the visit he was essentially growing for the South West Show in Mid August although he has been persuaded to put a few pots into a smaller local show earlier.  He will then exhibit plants at the Clevedon Show in North Somerset, that he has supported over the years.  Competitors in the cut bloom class compete for the L.N.Earl Trophy that he donated to encourage the begonia growers from Bristol and district.
   If all goes well the balance of plants should be ready and available for him to compete, as usual, at the National Show, Kings Heath Park, Birmingham, in early September.  Lakin regularly takes awards at the show and one year he was National Pots Champion.
   It was a pleasure, as always, to see Lakin again and you can't help but get enthusiastic about his understanding and empathy with begonias and the soil.  There is always a welcome to be had at Lakins', by prior arrangement.

Text and pictures by Basil Billinger   July 2007


Jenny Barclay..


Jennifer Wilson.


Whispers.


Ruby Young (grown outside)


Vera Coates.


Inside a greenhouse.


Gazebo plants.


Mandalay.


b, Bowerii 'Tiger' ..


Greenhouse exteriors..


The Gazebo..


'Little Brother Montgomery' .

THE SOUTH WEST AREA

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