2016 Diary Episode 11
My Sulphur Fume burner is hung up in my main
greenhouse and has been set up with a timer so it comes on for 2 hours
every night. Since I have had this item of equipment I have never
suffered from mildew in this greenhouse.
Saturday 25th June
I developed a case of “itchy feet” earlier in the week so I got hold
of Terry Tasker and “Dodgy” Dave Weatherby to see if they were
around this weekend, and it so happened they were both in on
Saturday. Mr Bryce then got a call to see if he was free for a joy
ride over to Southport.
After finishing work I headed straight over to Blackburn to pick
Robert up at 12:20ish (I was only 20 or so minutes late). On arrival
he did the honourable thing and made a brew, then we had a
quick look round his greenhouses whilst Robert took a cutting off a
plant for Terry Tasker.
My National Cut Bloom Champion prediction last year was bang on the
money and once again I will warn you all that Mr Bryce has stated
these are the best looking plants he has grown for many a year.
Then we set off to Southport and Dave Weatherbys home was first on
It was a beautiful sunny day at Dave’s and he had a couple of big
fans going in his greenhouses he stated this weather is the norm!!!
– When I left Trafford Park at Manchester it was persisting down as
they say, when I shot passed the Heywood Junction on the M56 on the
way to Roberts it was gloomy and starting to rain. I have had to
keep my doors shut at night as the temperature is dropping out (side
vents are open), and I have been leaving the doors shut during the
day over the last week as the temperature in the greenhouse is
hovering just above 60, and now and again it nearly touches 70.
I will not give too much away but considering this is his second
year of growing Begonias (does not include the decades he grew and
showed his prizes roses) – at least he saw the light and has started
to grow a proper flower now, but don’t tell Monty Don that!!!! let’s
leave him growing in the dark ages – However I will say myself and
Robert were shocked in what we saw…. Not with his 1st
greenhouse which had the plants in that were destined for the 20 pot
class at Southport or his 2nd greenhouse which contained
his cuttings and cutting tubers or his first attempt at about 40 cut
blooms in his main greenhouse but approx. 9 pot plants he stated
that he was growing for “fun”!!!! Robert quickly told him they were
good enough to go to Ayr Flower Show if he got the leaves out of the
top to give the flowers room to crown the pot.
After a long and extensive chat on all aspects of
growing it was time to leave and head for Terry Tasker.
We then followed Dave to the other side of
Southport to Terry Tasker's home where we were greeted by the man
himself who was waiting for us.
He took us through to his greenhouses, in his
main greenhouse down one side he had all his plants for Ayr which
had had all their buds taken and the plants stopped. The opposite
side had his plants for Southport. In his other greenhouse he had a
lot of cuttings and a little section of plants without labels
that he was allowing to flower in order to recognize the
variety and label them accordingly.
Time soon passed and we had to leave as Robert
was going out for a meal that night.
Thursday 30th June
It is 44 days to the National Flower Show so all my
plants that I had aimed at this show had to have their buds taken.
Just like last year I measured all my buds on each plant
If the bud was 28mm across the plant was stopped by
nipping out the growing tip of the plant.
If the bud was over 28mm across I leave the growing tip
intact with the aim of slowing down the bud growth until it comes in
to line with regards the size of bud I require, then the plant is
If the bud was smaller than 28mm across, then the
plant is moved up to the warmest part of the greenhouse and stopped.
Hopefully this will accelerate the growth a little and give it a
chance to catch up.
As well as taking the bud the plants had their first feed
into the pot – a full strength feed of Chempak No3.
Wednesday 6th July
It’s now 44 days to Southport Flower Show so I
have cobbled together as many small plants as possible that looked
half decent and measured the buds and stopped the plants.
When they got their next watering it was done
with Chempak No3 at full strength.
Thursday 7th July –
Potted up about 20 cuttings from one of my small
Shankey propagators and also moved outside another wave of well
rooted cuttings from my propagating greenhouse.
Sunday 10th July
Today Robert Bryce, Terry Tasker, Dave Weatherby
and myself headed north and a short hop over the border into
Scotland to Gretna Green then we did a dog leg left off the M74 to
the A75 and headed to Kirkcudbright and the home of Ian Donaldson's.
As Terry and Dave had never been to Ian’s, little did they know I
had already warned him to hide his better varieties just in case they
brought their plant wish lists with them again.
Ian did request we phoned him as we got of the
motorway so he could start breakfast or at least his better half
Linda could. Phil Champion got wind of a full breakfast being done
and you guessed it he was there as well when we arrived.
On our arrival and after the introductions were
done Ian took us round the back of his house to his greenhouses.
His 1st was his smallest greenhouse
which he used for propagating as well as growing some seedlings
and this year’s cuttings to flower
as you can see by the picture to the right.
Plants in his coldframe drew a lot of
attention and I asked Terry to pose to give you
some perspective with regards an idea of size etc as you can see by
the picture to the left. Ian also told us they were only in
a 4inch pot and that at this moment in time there is already a
cutting tuber at approx. 1.5inch in diameter at the bottom of the
At this point Linda called us all in for
breakfast, and when we had finished Ian took us to his main
greenhouse one at a time. As we were paraded in and one at a time
we finished with a look at a pot plant he is growing which Linda
had nicknamed “Brutus”, I will not spoil it but Ian is growing it a
little different than normal.
Well after waiting patiently with a nice fresh
pot of tea courtesy of Linda it was finally my turn for the royal
tour of his main greenhouse.
After a good discussion that covered many
subjects and topics with regards his plants -
Ian places a clothes peg just under
the knot from the “ribbon” that ties his flower stem to the plants
support, so if need be he can slide it up to lift the ribbon and in
turn it lifts the flower up etc (as you can see by the picture on the left).
Another thing Ian did a little
different to what I had seen before was how big he let his buds grow
before he put a plate behind the flower, to protect developing
he placed synthetic cotton wool between
the bud and leaves (as you
can see by the picture on the right).
What Ian looks for is the thickness
of the developing bud so it literally pushes the guard petals open,
rather than a long bud with no depth to it, as you can see by the
picture to the left showing what I mean with this bud of
Ian left the greenhouse and kindly allowed me to
take a few pictures.
After saying our farewells to Linda we then left
for Phil Champion's home complete with Ian Donaldson following us
just to sample some homemade cake that Phil's wife Judith
was rumoured to be baking for us.
On arrival we went straight into his greenhouse
and as you can see by the picture F to the left you can see
them inspecting his plants.
Phil did mention that he was considering showing
a 12 board at Ayr, Shrewsbury and Southport.
Ian at this point had showed Dave Weatherby how
he takes a bud, because when Ian selects his bud he also “rubs” off
the bracs and side buds all at the same time – Seeing the bud in
this naked form, in a daft way made it look weird.
After a lengthy discussion covering numerous
points of Begonia growth Judith called us in, there was food laid out
on the table so we all tucked in apart from Ian who tried the cake.
After a while Ian left for home, then it was our turn to say
farewell to Phil & Judith and make our journey home.
Tuesday 12th July
After I got home from work I went through all my
plants in my main greenhouse and inspected each plant one at a time
For any side shoots starting to
grow at the leaf - stem axis, if there are any then I just rub them
If there are any new basal shoots
that have come up then I pinch out the new growing point
and just leave the new leaves to help the process of photosynthesis.
Gently bend any “stray” leaves that
are close to the growing bud.
I “rub” off the bracs from under
the flower bud.
Pinch out the side buds.
Then for the 1st time I
used some dacron to protect any buds that were opening in close
proximity to any leaf.
It took me a good 5 hrs to go through all those
plants, now it’s down to the bud to get growing.
Sunday 17th July
It was 11.15am in Newcastle, the sky was blue and
the sun was beating down and Robert Bryce and I were creeping up
Clavering Way looking for number 5 and the home of Tony Shepherdson.
On arrival we were introduced to Tony’s wife and
after the introductions going through to his garden and greenhouses we found out that
both retired on the Friday before.
As you can see by the picture to the
right his plants looked really impressive and he had a lot of thick
buds that were starting to push the guard petals open, a sure sign
that he had a lot of petal in the bud. At this point Colin Elsworth
appeared as if by
magic to join us and
entered into the discussion on
growing and what varieties are the best for cut blooms. I just had
to take this picture of a monster bud of Beryl Rhodes.
We went into the conservatory for a brew and a
bite to eat and Colin and Tony then told us of their previous career
at growing and showing Jap Chrysanthemums.
We then left in convoy to Colin Elsworth's who
lives about 5 minutes away and 500ft higher up as Tony informed us.
On arrival we met Colin’s wife, his two grandchildren and the
children’s family dog. Earlier in the year Colin had sprayed his
begonias with something that disagreed with foliage, but his buds
looked ok as well as the flowers, as he had at least 4 Tequila
Sunrise where the oyster had broken and the flower was ready to
We were then invited into his new house he had
just had built for a drink. It was a beautiful building and we must
have spent a good couple of hours discussing a wide range of topics.
Before we knew it was nearly 5pm so we said goodbye to Tony, Colin
and his wife and made our way home.
Tuesday 19th July
The weather forecasted for today meant trouble –
so before I went to work I flooded the greenhouse floor opened
everything up and dropped all the plants on the top staging to
I was sat at work with the outside temperature
hitting 33oc /92of, when I left work at
14:00hrs I feared the worse. On
home the first
thing to knock me for six was my plants that were in front of the
conservatory that I had moved outside to make room for my
seedlings. As you can see by the picture to the right they
had been badly affected by the sheer heat of the sun. Strangely
however my cuttings to the right of them as you can see by the
picture to the left had pretty much escaped untouched.
Luckily I just had a couple of plants with sun
damaged leaves across my 2 greenhouses, and in my propagating
greenhouse you could see some sun burn damage on the odd seedling
and some cuttings that are just waiting to root in small pots of
Wednesday 20th July –
Another day that hit around 30oc / 86of as
forecasted so before I went to work I made sure everything was
watered and I flooded the greenhouse floor to keep the humidity up
and try and keep the air cool – well that thought made me feel a
little better when I left and had to leave my beloved
plants behind. On return I soaked the greenhouse floor thoroughly again
and they seemed to have come through another day unscathed.
Thursday 21st July
It was to have rained last night and this morning
but instead a beautiful blue sky and at 6am it was already at 16oc
/ 61of .
Robert Bryce, Marion Sycamore and myself had a
drive down to Ball Colegrave’s Open Day where we joined up with a few
others – Gary & Joy Dando, Peter & June Sourbutts, Barry & Pauline
Walker and John Winfield.
We were the first to arrive, and as we
signed in the woman on reception explained that the hot weather they
had recently experienced had taken its toll on a number of varieties
and that included the Begonias. We got a brew and started to mooch
through the 1st greenhouses, which led us to the 2nd
greenhouse that for want of a better description was made up of
themed rooms using different varieties of plants. It must have been
hot as the glass had been taken out of one side of this massive
greenhouse. Then we looked around the trial beds and there at the
end was a seating area and that’s where I sat with Marion
talking whilst Robert carried on walking talking pictures as he
went. The picture K to the right just gives you an idea what
was there. After a while June Sourbutts appeared and joined us not
long after everyone was sat and chatting the shade as the sun beat
Peter Sourbutts and I went looking
at some trailing begonias as you can see by the pictures
to the left & right which did not look too bad considering the
temperatures they had endured without shade or additional care. Not
long after we all caught up and went for dinner. After another look
round we headed back to the car to get some plants out that Robert
had brought down for a couple of people, we then said our goodbyes
and hit the road home.
We hit the other side of Manchester and where
approx 35 mile from home where we hit traffic and it took us 2hrs
and 45 minutes to travel that distance home. At least for once
Robert had the additional 30+minute drive further to his house.
Saturday 23rd July
This afternoon I started to put backing plates
on some of my plants. At present I had only put stakes in my plants
to stick a label on to tell me of bud sizes and dates when the bud
was stopped, as I cannot see the point of tying the plant to it if
its growing straight up on a strong stem.
With letting the bud grow bigger I found out in
most cases the flower bud had cleared the leaf canopy hence reducing
the number of leaves that needed cutting off to get the plate behind
So I –
Cleared away any leaves if I had to
from around the flower – and removed any dacron I had used to
protect the developing bud.
Placed the ribbon around the base
of the flower where the stem meets it and tied it off at the back of
Just as Ian Donaldson did I placed
a peg or slider just under the knot.
Then I carefully slid the backing
plate down behind the flower.
Sunday 24th July
Mr Bryce had arranged a trip to John Hamilton’s
today to have a look at the plants he had grown to use on the
Society bureau stand display at Ayr Flower Show. We had a new
travelling companion today none other than John Chiswell, he had
made the 3.5hr journey from Somerset to my house to join us on this
trip North. On his arrival, and this may come as a shock to some, I
was sociable and made him a brew and some toast and marmalade
before we left for Mr Bryce’s.
On arrival at Roberts he gave John a tour of his
set up showing him some interesting seedlings that he had coming
On our journey north we dropped into Robert
Nelsons to touch base with him.
We then left for John Hamilton’s with Mr Nelson
coming with us too. We arrived to find he had repaired the gate
from our last visit and it was now “Weatherby proof”.
We found John hard at work in his greenhouse. Now with seeing his plants at the beginning of the year and
how they were playing second fiddle to the house renovations
due to the storm damage that happened at the end of last year to say
he had pulled of a near
miracle to get them to this stage would be a
He had a number of plants running as cut blooms
and had some fantastic looking buds breaking open as you can see by
the picture to the left showing a bloom of Colin Hamilton
with none of the white flecks that usually grow out of it as it
develops and the picture on the right shows a fantastic
Joyce Milhuka opening.
His pot plants had a lot of growing to do but had
a lot of potential as you can see by the picture to the
John also had a number of flambouyant’s in tubs
that he was growing for the society stand as well as about 5 tubs of
a “seedling” which had great potential with a flower that had a
slightly unusual shade that went well with the colour of the
foliage. John was planning to let someone “win” the chance of naming
it at Ayr flower show (see picture to the right).
Wednesday 27th July
This afternoon after work I managed to finish
plating the rest of my flowers in the main greenhouse as you can see
by the picture to the left.
Thursday 28TH July
Picture this, I am sat at work when my mobile
text alert goes off on checking the message its none other than Dave
Weatherby sending me pictures of a flower of Colin Hamilton at just
shy of 10inchs….
That brings a new tactic in to gamesmanship –
Psychological warfare!!!! He might as well have parked his truck outside
my house and played the Spice Girls at full volume to upset my
Saturday 30th July
Picture this, its 10:11am I am sat at work and my
mobile text alert goes off and its Dave Weatherby playing mind games
again – he sent the picture to the left to me – with the
words “how do you get six of these in them 6 bloom boxes…….”
I don’t call him “Dodgy” Dave Weatherby for
Until next time….