BOB ROBERTSON Scottish Begonia Society Committee Member
Visited Sunday 5th. May 2017
has been growing begonias for approx. 6 years and is a member of the
Scottish Begonia Society Committee, and is one of the driving forces
that ensure the SBS has a stand at Gardening Scotland at the start of
June with the aim to “sell” the Society and recruit new members.
Bob's set up was different from what I usually see on the road, and is
one of the reasons why we like to visit different growers
“environment’s” as not everyone has the same kind of set up.
His “growing environment” ran the length of his back garden and started
as per normal with an 8ftx6ft greenhouse that he uses as a propagating
8ftx6ft Propagating greenhouse -
Down both sides of this greenhouse as you can see by the pictures
to the left and right are x2 homemade
hotbox units and both were filled half full off sand with a heating
cable being sandwiched within and controlled with a Parasone Thermostat
something Bob did do different when he made his hotbox units instead of
fitting a “solid” sheet to separate the compost from the sand and heat
cables he put a layer of mesh as you can see from the picture
to the left, as he likes the moisture to flow both ways.
Now additional to this he has an “underslung” hotbox as you can see on
the picture to the right.
Bob uses Mother Earth multi-purpose compost to fill his hotboxes then
brings them up to temperature before
his tubers in.
As you can see by the picture on the left he starts his
cuttings in Mother Earth multi-purpose compost and perlite then he
plunges the pot into the hotbox, his rex cuttings are put in and again
he plunges his pots into the compost.
if you also look carefully he has also takes his rex cuttings and roots
them in perlite.
Now for something different –
When Bob pots up he uses his own Johns Innes No2, however his “loam” is
from an allotment society in East Kilbride where they “compost” compost
for up to 3 years before it is riddled and used. He did say that certain
“greens” are not composted but items like cabbage and begonia leafs are.
He then mixes it with peat and uses Vitax Q4 for his base fertilizer.
His main growing “building”
As per the picture to the left you can see the building he has
built that stretches across to the other side of the garden, and it is
separated up into x3 rooms.
first room –
As you can see by the pictures to the left and right this
room is like a growing-on room and has flat slatted
single level bench that go around the 3 sides of this room. He has a
number of other types of plants like streptocarpus, cyclamen, maiden
hair ferns and sweet peas. As well as rex’s, flamboyants and double
tuberous begonias in, that are all been grown on.
The second room –
This is a room that he flowers his plants in.
As you can see by the picture on the left running down the
right hand side of this room is a 3 tier stepped staged system with the
first level being a hot box unit if required – and there you can see Mr Weatherby inspecting Bobs plants and “checking” what varieties he has.
The 3 tiered staging system carries on across the
back of this room and is again filled with developing plants. Now as
you can see
by the picture J to the right he has a shelf that runs along the
top half of the wall and here were a lovely collection of pelargoniums in
Now coming back down the left hand side of the room
Bob has tried to do something that I have heard mentioned but not heard
of anyone trying it, and that is -
Does a begonia need to go to sleep at the end
of the year or is it the grower that needs a rest….
So to try and get flowers for Gardening Scotland Flower Show at
Ingleston for June 1st Bob gave this a try. He took some
straight through winter and tried to get an early flower on them,
it did not quite go to plan but he may get a few flowers to the show. He
also said he will not be trying it again.
I have put this picture on the left in to show you that his
plants wanted to go down and into a stage of dormancy at the end of the
The third room –
is his rex house as you can see by the following pictures. On the left the picture L showing the
right hand side of this room where he has again a 3 tier staging system with
both rex’s and streptocarpus on. Across the back of this room he has a 4
tier staging system that were full of rex’s and streptocarpus.
The picture to the right shows you his rex’s coming back down
his right hand side, under his 3 tier staging he has a hotbox containing
The picture to the left shows the other half of the right hand
side again with 3 tiers of rex’s and a hotbox full of rex cutting’s.
I will say that at this point we left Terry Tasker talking to Bob as
they got very engrossed talking about his Rex’s as you can see by my
final picture – I will say Terry was getting very nostalgic and
misty eyed, so I can see him at some point going back to growing these
again at some degree.
Since this visit I have spoken with Bob and he said by the time we were
heading home back down the M74 after the our visit and SBS meeting he
was already putting more shade up in his greenhouse on the advice of
I would like to thank Bob Robertson for allowing me
to write this article.