2016 Diary Episode 13
Saturday 17th September - The yearly
With this section it would be handy to have a map of Scotland at
hand to trace our steps.
Today's the day I made what has become an annual pilgrimage to Fife
Flower Show via Ronnie Welsh’s home in Methil. I was also flying
solo today as Mr Bryce was on a family holiday & Mr Weatherby was in
The venue had moved to a church hall in Burntisland as Doobies in
Dunfermline wanted to use the previous Show area for storing all their Christmas “tat” as my old man use to call
Because I was travelling alone I phoned John Hamilton earlier
in the week to see what his plans were, and if he was showing I
asked if he wanted me to pick him and his flowers up and take them
to the venue and once staged make our way to Ronnie’s.
On Thursday John phoned back and asked me to be at his house for 10am
would be going up with Bob Robertson who would do the driving and
that would give me a break, he also said he would stage his flowers
Friday night as he did not fancy getting up early Saturday morning.
The Start -
I left home for just after 7am and made my way North and I had a
good drive until they shut the M74. At Junction 13 they pulled us
motorway at Abington services and sent us over the tops and it
dropped us out at the start of the Ayr road at Junction 12,then 10
minutes later I arrived at John Hamilton’s home for bang on 10am to
meet up with John and Mhari Hamilton and Bob Robertson. Bob is one
of those mad Scotsmen along with Robert Nelson & Peter Matthews who
put an excellent stand on at Ingleston as you can see by the picture to the
left when you consider the time of year it was (I
missed putting this picture in an earlier episode).
John Hamilton’s Home
On arrival I met John & Mhari’s new pup, which had huge paws and
sounded like an elephant when it ran across the kitchen floor. As we
went for a quick look in John's greenhouse we found out the dog had
been named Koshka (see picture to the right) which is Russian for
“female cat”. In my humble opinion Mhari has a fantastic sense of
humour, John did comment that the dog will need a lot of therapy
later in life over this – which we all found funny.
John had been to the show venue the night before to stage his
flowers and due to horrendous traffic issues that he encountered on
the way back resulted in him not getting home until the early hours.
So armed with this info John programmed Bob’s car's sat nav for
Ronnie Welsh’s home then ignored it to take the back roads to the
Road Bridge thus avoiding all the traffic jam hot spots, and once over
the Road Bridge we followed the sat nav to Methil and the seat where
the king of the Kingdom of Fife resided.
Once we crossed the Forth Road Bridge and headed deep into the
Kingdom of Fifth we found beautiful blue skies and sun – in fact
every time I have been to Ronnie’s this has always been the weather
I don’t think he knows what rain is….
Ronnie Welsh’s home
arrived at Ronnie’s just as Jim Evans was leaving to go to the show,
now Ronnie was not exhibiting
because he was suffering with sciatica.
On entering the greenhouse we were hit with a wall of colour down the
left hand side of his greenhouse (as you can see by the pictures to
the right and left) to the right were plants that were going back
When you consider the time of year his flowers looked fantastic and
as you can see by the picture to the left and the great man himself
Ronnie showed us his cold frame which housed this
year’s cuttings. One thing that
does surprise me on my travels is the many different ways growers
keep and look after their cuttings, but at the end of the day you
could see cutting tubers developing
the cuttings. The picture to the left shows me, Bob Robertson
and Ronnie discussing his cuttings – the picture to the right shows
the four us, I was trying to hide behind John but Mhari was just too
quick with the camera.
On returning to his greenhouse John & Ronnie started discussing the
pro’s & con’s
on varieties as you can see by the picture to the left once again I
got caught on it so to say – the flower in the picture I was Walk
Talk and to the right an really good Colin Hamilton.
I just had to include these pictures as well just to show you how good his flowers were:
to right – Joshua Brown, Powder Puff, Symestar & RT Murphy Bryce –
The Show -
After leaving Ronnie’s we followed the coastal road to Burntisland
via Kirkcaldy and Kinghorn it certainly looked a lovely stretch of
On arrival to Burntisland we managed to park the car on the car park
which was at the edge of the “Links” (this was a very long stretch
of grass land before you got to the beach where people could play,
walk and have picnics etc.). We then made are way up a steep one way
road to find the Church Hall which was split into 2 big halls -
1. This had the flower show in.
Was set out with tables where you could buy homemade cakes
etc. to eat with a good cuppa
We made our way into the first hall to
find it full of exhibits and none-other than Andrew Patterson who has
a lot to do with setting up and running of the show and if I am honest
looked dead on his feet he must have been one very long day for him.
With Andrew was Jim Evans so after a quick chat I made my way over
to the begonia section. At this point I found out we had just missed
the Judge Robert Nelson for the second year running, this
time however we had missed him by just 10 minutes.
Hamilton had come 1st in the 6 board as you can see by
the picture to the left on which he had staged
Geisha Girl (bottom right on his 6 board) - when was the last time
anyone saw that variety staged?
Tony Shepherdson took 2nd place with a
very good board as you can see by the picture to the right which
included probably the best Colin Hamilton I have seen shown this
year (bottom left on this board) as well as a very good Alana
Hamilton (middle left), how did I know it was good!!! Simple I
the man who raised it who was with us…. John Hamilton.
John also pipped Tony to claim 1st place in the 3 board
class – John’s winning 3 are to the left hand side of the picture to
the left, but Tony got his own back by taking the single cut bloom
class with a bloom of Falstaff as you can see by the picture to the right.
After a while myself Bob, Tony and Mhari went for
a cuppa, John was following us but by the time we had sat down he
had gone AWOL – mooching round and talking to other exhibiters no
doubt. So the 4 of us ate some homemade cakes (small ones I hasten
to add) and chatted. After a while John arrived at the end of the
table with a huge grin on his face and rubbed his hands at the same
time as saying ”fish supper”.
We said our farewells to Tony
Shepherdson as he left to look for his wife who had come with him,
and 10 minutes later after we had come out of the hall and made our
way back to the car park we found ourselves outside a chippy on the
seafront, more or less facing the car park and the four of us went in
to sit down and have a fish supper.
The drive back part 1
On the way back to John's we followed the coast road round the
headland to the Forth Road Bridge, as we made our way round we came
through Dalgety Bay and John and Bob started talking about radiation
contamination, John explained about how the
instrument dials were coated with radioactive paint. (The next day I
was still intrigued with this story so I went and did some
Dalgety Bay – a little bit of local history
The source of the contamination has come from waste dumped by HMS
Merlin, the naval air station that formerly occupied the area and
which was closed in 1959. During WW ll, the station was tasked with
carrying out maintenance of aircraft. This involved the service and
repair of the aircrafts instrumentation, and many of the cockpit
instrument dial markings were coated with luminous paint containing
radium, which is radioactive. Following the end of the war many
surplus aircraft were scrapped at HMS Merlin, and incinerated with
other rubbish. The waste was ultimately disposed of as landfill and
used to form a headland at Dalgety Bay and over the years it
is believed to have leached into the bay and Scottish Environment
Protection Agency or SEPA have said it’s about 50 times higher than
The drive back part 2
I think it was about 7ish when we got back to John & Mhari’s home
where we said our goodbyes to Bob Robertson then John suggested I had
a brew before I set off home.
I left for around 2000hrs and made my way
back South over the border into England and on to Heywood and home.
Some of you might not believe this but I had a
slow “legal” drive back and made it home for just after 2300hrs
I would just like to thank John Hamilton, Bob
Robertson and Ronnie Welsh for a great day out and a special thanks
to Mhari Hamilton who went snap happy and supplied most of the
Sunday 25th September
Well I broke a habit of a lifetime and cut my plant stems in half,
not just to let air move between the plants to help prevent rot and
mildew creep in. The reason I did this was so I could push my pots
up next to each other to make room for my cuttings which were still outside as
the weather has changed drastically and I have lost my propagating
greenhouse due to growing and trying to flower my seedlings.
Temperatures at night have dropped down to single
figures, it’s getting dark for 1900hrs and it’s raining and cold
during the day.
I am still going through all my cuttings every
week or two stopping any new basal’s that have been thrown up from
below as well as rubbing out any new side shoots that appear. I am
starting to see pots being pushed out of shape and basals being
thrown, a sure sign of cutting tuber production.
Tuesday 27th September
Today I fed all my cuttings with Chempak no 3 as I want to keep my
cutting tuber production under the plant going for a while yet. At
this time of year they want to reproduce by flowering, but I have
denied them that as well as stopping any new shoots forming during the
year – so the cutting is limited to only one way to “survive” and
that’s by producing a tuber.
Saturday 1st October
I had a drive over to Mr Bryce’s this afternoon as I have not seen
him for a while and I wanted to see how his seedlings were doing. I found him
in high spirits on his drive way were I noticed a load of new basket
begonias, he went through the varieties he had picked up for next to
nothing from a Garden Centre in Newcastle. I don’t know any grower
with the amount of different varieties of basket / trailing begonias
than what Robert has now (maybe he should challenge June & Peter Sourbutts in the hanging basket class at Southport Flower Show). His
new ones were part of a series raised by an American company.
We had a brew and caught up on things then Robert
fired up his laptop and showed me a couple of seedlings that had
flowered and he was hoping to keep them over until next year.
We then had a walk out to see how his seedlings
were doing. They had suffered a little bit as he had been
away on holiday, whilst away
we endured a couple of warm days
however he did have a white seedling he was getting a little “giddy”
He had now managed to get all his plants into his
greenhouses apart from his baskets types that were still flowering
on his drive.
Sunday 9th October
Today the 3 amigos - Mr Bryce, Dodgy Dave and myself – were back in the
saddle so to speak and heading north.
Rewind the clock back to Monday 3rd October –
I made a call to Bob Robertson with regards a picture I was after
from him, then asked if I could book 3 people at the last minute to
the Scottish Begonia Society meal on Sunday 9th October…
That night I e-mailed Robert Bryce and texted Dave Weatherby who was
on holiday in Malta where they were going on Sunday 9th
So that’s why I was not alone on this trip - the other two were given
no choice, I had also made arrangements to drop some plants in at
John Hamilton’s before we headed off for the Society meal.
So it was just after 07:30hrs when we met Dave Weatherby and hit the
M6 north, we made good time so I made a stop for a brew. Dave
Weatherby behaved himself this time and we had no recurrence of the
coffee throwing incident that we had early in the year, as that
incident nearly got us all barred from all Motorway services
Starbucks north of the border.
We arrived at Johns for after 10am and unloaded the boot then took
everything round the back of his house.
John’s plants were going back in 2 sections of his “greenhouse” – in
his propagator he had some late cuttings rooting. He also had
hundreds of cuttings in flower as he was hybridising again and made
a number of crosses, resulting in petals falling off a number of
female buds that he had crossed over.
Since the weather was warm we had a brew outside, we were joined
by Mhari and we chatted about everything.
John disappeared back into his greenhouse with Dave and after a
while Dave “the plant hunter” arrived back with a large number of
On our way out I noticed that John had put 9 new screws and a nail
in his gate to make it Dave Weatherby proof – and it survived Dave’s
visit intact this time.
We said our goodbyes to John & Mhari Hamilton and left at 1215hrs
and set off for the gathering at Airdrie. At 12:45hrs we arrival to
find Robert Nelson waiting for us outside Springfield Community
Centre and he had a quiet word with Mr Bryce as we were shown to our
We were not the only ones that made it up from the South of the
border as Tony Shepherdson, Colin Elsworth, Vincent Potts and Phil
Champion were in attendance as well.
the meal Mr Bryce got up and did a presentation on Ayr & Shrewsbury
Flower Shows from pictures taken by Jim Evens – Mr Nelson ambushed Mr
Bryce on arrival and press ganged him into doing the impromptu
presentation. During the presentation Phil Champion announced he
had named his seedling that had taken the shows by storm this year,
he has named it after his mother – Joyce Champion (see picture
to left) – and am sure he will be bombarded with requests for it.
The meal and presentation finished for 15:45hrs so we said our
farewells to everyone – I thought this was a little early to head
back home so I had a quick chat with Phil Champion who felt the same
so we informed Robert Nelson we were going back to his for a brew….
So 3 cars made their way to Carluke and Mr Nelson's home.
On arrival at Robert's he showed us into his main greenhouse and
asked us all a few questions before we went in his conservatory for
a brew. After an hour or so we said our farewells to Robert & Margaret
for probably the last time this year.
We then made are way back South of the border and
back to England & home.
Until next time….